Recovery begins for girl hit by train

A nine-year-old Sturgis girl has been released from the hospital after being hit by a train last month. Dwanda Simmons said her daughter, Kiana Long, was released from Rapid City Regional Hospital on Monday.

Simmons said her daughter was walking home along the tracks at 3rd and Park Streets on September 19, 2011 when she was hit from behind by a portion of the train going 20 mph.

Long usually walks home with her 14-year-old brother. He was already at the top of the hill and had to witness the accident. Simmons said her son tried to help Kiana but it was too late; he didn’t make it to his sister in time. The girl’s aunt, Mae Simmons, said Kiana saw and heard the train approaching but thought the train would stop.

The 9-year-old was conscious and alert when police arrived. She was taken to Sturgis Regional Hospital before being air-lifted to Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Dwanda Simmons said Long was in a “trauma-induced” coma and had to be placed on life support. The first words she muttered was “I’m on it,” a phrase commonly used by her family.

Simmons said that was one of the greatest moments following the accident. The second greatest moment was bringing her daughter home.

But even though Kiana is now home, her mother said Kiana has a long road to recovery. She has several skull fractures and bruises, suffers from memory loss, has frequent headaches, is susceptible to seizures, and requires assistance to walk. The once active child now just sits and stares.

No one is sure whether Kiana’s symptoms are temporary or long-term. But her family says she is making progress toward normalcy. Kiana attended school for one hour on Friday as a trial. The goal is have Kiana attend school two hours a day until she fully recovers.

Simmons said she’s blessed and fortunate to have a second opportunity with her daughter. Things she once took for granted, such as time together, now mean more. Simmons said she realizes life is not guaranteed and that every moment should be cherished.

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