MILWAUKEE — Six-year-old Alex Hook is no longer in a coma after a tragic accident on the playground of his school River View Elementary in Kenosha County. Over the weekend, doctors at Children's Wisconsin reversed the medically induced coma.
"I happened to be on the phone with my sister [when they reversed the coma]. It was a very slow process," said Alex's aunt, Michelle Koertgen. "The minute we heard him cry, my sister dropped the phone, but hadn't hung up with me so I got to listen to her speaking with him. I was overjoyed with tears and so was she. But now he's crying and it's like what's the matter? So it's a wonderful feeling, but then you realize is he in pain?"
Earlier this month, Alex was playing during recess when a small piece of a steel bar used to reinforce concrete was accidentally whipped up by a nearby riding lawn mower, striking Alex in the head.
The police report says the lawn mower was on a grass median on the street about 70 feet from where Alex was playing. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health, projectiles from lawn mowers can be thrown at a speed of 232 mph.
Koertgen said that a piece of Alex's skull broke off and lodged into his brain. Alex was taken in a helicopter to Children's Wisconsin, where he was placed in the medically induced coma.
"As I'm sure you can imagine, with brain injuries it very complicated," Koertgen said of Alex's recovery.
Alex still has a tube in his head, but doctors are hoping to remove that soon and fit him for a helmet. Once that happens, he'll be able to do more therapy. Right now he's in physical, occupational and speech therapies. Koertgen said Alex has shown issues with fine motor skills, especially on his right side.
"Down the road we don't know what the long term cognitive issues may or may not be," Koertgen said.
But the family is trying to remain optimistic, which has been helped by the community support they've received.
A GoFundMe has raised more that $162,000 of a $250,000 goal to help the family. And on Wednesday, Stinebrink's Kenosha Piggly Wiggly said the would be rounding up at the registers at both Kenosha locations and donating the proceeds to the Hook family.
"Watching all of this happen has restored my faith in humanity. It's just like nothing I've ever seen," Koertgen said.