'I want to know why they didn't stop': 13-year-old Ottawa hit-and-run victim leaves CHEO
Serene Summers walked out of CHEO to go home on Friday, six weeks after being struck by the driver of a vehicle in Ottawa's west end.
"I am feeling so happy and excited to finally be going home after so long," the 13-year-old said.
Summers was struck while crossing the street with a friend on Meadowlands Drive on Feb. 13, with the driver fleeing the scene. She had just purchased Valentine’s Day cards.
Police are still looking to identify the driver involved and have previously released photos of a vehicle of interest that's believed to be a 2006-2011 two-door black Honda Civic that likely has damage to the front end and windshield.
"I want to know why they didn’t stop," Summers says. "Now they have traumatized two young girls…. I was in so much pain."
Summers says she doesn’t remember much from the moment she was struck. She says her memory of that day, "Ends of me and my best friend getting onto the bus. I don’t remember anything after that. I do remember we were having a really fun time. We went Valentine’s shopping."
She learned what happened later in her hospital stay.
"I was very shocked to find out I was hit by a car! My eyes widen so big because I didn’t know what has happened."
Summers suffered a brain injury and was in a medically induced coma for several days. She had to learn to talk and walk again. Her left hand was also temporarily paralyzed. She still experiences severe pain and discomfort.
Summers says her time in hospital has "been difficult for me."
"Trying to figure out what happened, why they happened, and to me. It was hard to relearn to do everything that I used to be able to do so easily, like walking, there was a point where I couldn’t talk. It was hard for me to experience to relearn all that," Summers said while standing outside of CHEO.
"Coming closer to the end, I started to get happier knowing I was going to be home soon, and that boosted my spirits, so I started working a lot harder," she says.
Summer’s mother Anita Armstrong says the team at CHEO was astonished at how quickly her daughter recovered.
"Overall blessed that she is still with us, it could have been such a different outcome, thanks to CHEO," Armstrong said.
"From the ambulance to the neurosurgeons to the nurses, the occupational therapist, physiotherapists, all of the teams - CHEO is amazing, and they saved her life. It is incredible."
Summers says it took a lot of hard work to get to where she is today.
"I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to go home, so I think that pushed me to work as hard as I could," Summers said.
"I was so happy to be getting out the doors and go home. It is going to be fun, no nurses checking on me at the middle of the night!” Summers laugh.
As for the search for the driver, Summers hopes they do the right thing and come forward.
"The main thing I would ask is, 'Why?’ Why they would do this and why they wouldn’t stop and why don’t they just come forward and accept what is going to happen to them."
The medical journey isn’t over yet, Summers will need to continue rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
"It was a big experience for someone by age to go through all this."
But Summers spirit remains resilient in the face of adversity.
"I think the journey is going to help me throughout life. To realize that it is not all perfect and I think it is going to help me because I want to be a doctor when I am older."