As they look after their two children, badly hurt in a Turlock car crash last week, Ryant Grayson and wife Shawnta Lynnell draw strength from their faith, the prayers and support of family and friends and, in great part, the strength their little girls are showing.
Thirteen-month-old Gia suffered injuries including head trauma, collapsed lungs and a leg broken in two places, Grayson said by phone Tuesday morning from Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, where older daughter Genevieve – GG, as family calls her – was awaiting surgery for her damaged spinal cord.
Gia, her father said, has made good progress since she, her sister and mother were broadsided by a speeding vehicle March 29 at the intersection of North Golden State Boulevard and Hawkeye Avenue. “Gia, she’s moving her legs, her arms,” Grayson said. “Yesterday morning, she woke up early and I called her name to her, she called mine. They took her off of the breathing machine and they’re letting her eat solid food.”
She appears to have overcome her head injury, he said, though doctors are keeping close watch to see she has no seizures.
I just want everybody to pray and keep faith in our kids and pray they come back 100 percent.
Four-year-old GG is “coming along a little slower,” Grayson said, but the Newman couple find her progress tremendous. She is moving her eyes and responding in other ways, her father said. “They say, ‘If you can hear me, raise your eyebrows,’ and she will.” She’s able to move her tongue as instructed and bite down on suction tubes when nurses are removing excess saliva from her mouth. She had one collapsed lung, Grayson said, but that’s improving, too.
His wife was “all bruised up” in the crash and continues to feel chest pain and tightness, Grayson said, but it means everything to be out of the hospital and with her daughters. “She can be hands-on with GG and Gia,” he said. “They let her pick up Gia and hold her. She’s able to massage GG’s hands and feet, read to her and play her some of her favorite TV shows on a smartphone.
It can be hard to read GG’s feelings, Grayson said, but sometimes they’ll see tears run from her eyes. “We’re just trying to bring all positive vibes to her.”
Thanks to family, neither GG nor Gia, who’s at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, has been alone as their parents make the 165-mile trip back and forth. Monday, the couple went from Sacramento to Madera to be with GG for Tuesday’s spinal surgery. She already was stable, Grayson said, but the aim of the surgery is to further improve her condition so she can be taken to Sacramento, which has doctors who specialize in spinal cord treatment.
On the long-term prognosis, doctors have been good about sharing their thoughts, “but they don’t know for sure,” Grayson said. “It will take time and we’ll see in the long run.”
The family hasn’t heard much from Turlock police about the crash, he said. “It’s gonna take some time, they’re still gathering up witnesses,” he said. At the simplest, “they were at the wrong place and wrong time around someone driving reckless.”
Police have said the crash is the subject of a criminal investigation, and have not released the name of the other driver. Grayson said he wants the driver to know, “He’s got to drive for others, not just for himself. There’s other people with children in cars ... . You’ve got to look out.”
He said he also hopes the city will take a hard look at the intersection – which his wife uses every day to get to work – to see if there are ways to slow some of the traffic going through it. “I would never want that to happen to anyone again.”
An account has been established at gofundme.com – search Shawnta – to help the family with costs.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327