WASHTENAW COUNTY: Mother warns of dangers involving hayrides after son's tragedy
It only took a split second for a beloved fall tradition to permanently alter the life of Milan High School student Jordan Hogg, and his mother, Amy, is now speaking out on the potential hidden dangers associated with hayrides.
In October 2009, Jordan was a passenger on a hayride as part of a seasonal outing with his church's youth group.
"Jordan was sitting on top of the utility trailer on top of a bail of hay," Amy Hogg said, citing the presence of another family member participating in the ride.
After going over a small bump at a low speed, something went wrong.
"My niece said to me, 'I was looking at him one minute and the next he was gone,'" Hogg said.
Jordan had fallen off the trailer, attempting to hang on to a bail of hay that went with him in the fall.
Once on the ground, he went under the wheel of the wagon, which ran over his head and tangled his leg in the spokes.
Given the extent of his injuries, Hogg said Jordan was not expected to survive, with responding firefighters telling her the prognosis was not good.
"They didn't expect him to live," she said.
However, Jordan did survive, but is still struggling with brain damage and other physical problems associated with the accident.
He has various doctor appointments most every day.
"He deals with migraines and a lot of cramping in his legs," she said. "His brain is trying to reroute around the dead area."
Hogg said she doesn't want anyone else to have to go through the struggle that Jordan and her family have dealt with for the last year.
That is why she has begun to advocate precaution as hayride season gets under way.
"I am not asking people to not have, or go on, hayrides," she said, "but I am asking people to use common sense when doing these things."
Hogg said utility trailers are not regulated the way cars and other vehicles are, so it's up to parents to use common sense to determine if the wagon in question is appropriately safe for their children.
"Make sure there are sides on the trailer," she said, indicating the need for all passengers to be seated low and within the confines of the railings.
Hogg said one of Jordan's biggest mistakes was not sitting properly on the wagon, which wouldn't have been possible if railings existed.
"They need to have rails," she said. "If they don't have rails, they shouldn't be on them."
Another safety concern, said Hogg, is the lack of available communication between the back of the trailer and the driver.
The noise associated with the tractor's engine is enough to prevent the driver from hearing important information, Hogg said, such as the need to stop in case of an emergency.
"Make sure there is some way to communicate between the people in the back of the wagon and the person driving," she said.
Hogg also warns that simply because an adult is present on the hayride, parents should not let down their guard.
"There were adults on with Jordan," she said, adding these types of accidents often happen so fast no one has proper time to react.
Most of all, Hogg said parents shouldn't assume because they have participated in hayrides in the past without witnessing any severe injuries that it is not possible.
"There are deaths every year from this," she said.
With a bit of precaution, Hogg said other families can avoid the pain and suffering her family had had to endure over the past year.
"I would never wish another family to go through what we did," she said. "You wouldn't let your kid sit on the window of a car, so don't let them sit on the side of a trailer."
Hogg said she intends to eventually gather her precautionary advice in the form of a website and continue to advocate for safer hayrides.
"Educate yourself before writing this whole thing off to a mom taking an accident and going overboard with it," she said. "Get on the Internet and read for yourself."
Steven Howard can be reached at 429-7380 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his blog at http://heritageweststaffblog.blogspot.com.