FORT WAYNE, IN. –All Pau Sawm Khual remembers is trying to get to his school, and then “just a blackout.”
Pau, 13, woke up at the hospital four days after he was struck by a car Dec. 16 around 7:15 a.m. while crossing East State Boulevard to Blackhawk Middle School.
His father, Pau Lam Thang, was just leaving the scene after dropping Pau off and on his way to take two younger siblings to school, when he heard a loud noise. Then he became aware that his oldest child was lying in the middle of the roadway with blood all around him.
Speaking through Pau’s uncle, Hang Khual, at the family home Sunday, Thang said he ran up to his son and held him in his arms. He couldn’t believe his son showed no signs of life.
Thang and his wife, No Lun, followed the ambulance to the hospital where doctors told them their son was in life-threatening condition. The school nurse was also en route, Thang reported.
“He’s gone,” Khual said the family thought. “He’s dead.”
Pau came home from the hospital Thursday and is not able to walk. However, Pau’s doctors said they were surprised at his progress, Khual said.
The pain is so great, Pau continues to take medicines every four hours.
“Otherwise he can’t take it,” his uncle said. It’s unclear when he’ll get back to school on a regular basis.
Pau suffered two broken legs, the left leg broken in two places. Facial injuries included a broken forehead and nose and he lost three teeth. His uncle said his left calf muscle was so badly injured that it was “almost gone.”
At the hospital, all Pau could talk about was going home to his family, members of the Myanmar Indigenous Christian Church on Coldwater Road. Prayers from the church and support from the community have kept the family going, but their financial situation is precarious.
Employed at poultry processing factories, Pau’s father is without work and his mother was given three-months unpaid leave to tend to their bedridden son, who relies on a wheelchair for basic mobility but must be helped.
Pau, born in Malaysia, came to the U.S. as a toddler and is a 7th grader at Blackhawk Middle School. His favorite subject is social studies and he loves playing video games with his younger siblings, but not before the family worships together for about a half hour every day and then Pau must do his homework, his father said.
Sunday, he was surrounded by family and his best friend, Suan Muang, also a 7th grader at Blackhawk. After the accident, students were shocked and “were worried about him,” Muang said.
After Pau was hit by a car, police issued preliminary reports that Pau was crossing the road as a pick up truck was traveling on East State Boulevard and a car was attempting to enter the roadway. The crossing guard was in the process of trying to stop traffic.
Just after the accident, Sylvia Weston, crossing guard for Fort Wayne Community Schools, said there were four students coming from the north when she crossed, then heard a thud as the vehicle struck Pau.
“There was four kids and they were coming from the north and I crossed and then I turned around and I heard a thud and this truck hit a student,” Sylvia Weston, an FWCS crossing guard, said at the scene.
An FWCS spokesperson said the crossing at East State and Busche Drive had been a concern for a while because vehicles tend to speed on State Boulevard.
The driver of the vehicle that hit Pau stayed at the scene, police said. No one has been charged in the incident.