CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of a 12-year-old girl hit by a car in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood in November faces a long road ahead, but they are finding purpose even with her life-altering injury.
CBS 2’s Jacki Kostek spoke with the girl’s mother, who describes the pain of watching her daughter suffer as something she would not wish on anyone.READ MORE: 15-Year-Old Killed, Five Other Juveniles Wounded In Trio Of Shootings In Chicago On Tuesday
Before Michelle Billups knew what happened, she felt it.
“I had got this sharp pain in my left side,” she said.
It was a Saturday evening in late November. She sat on her couch with the window open, listening to sirens blare nearby.
“I was like, ‘Ugh.’ It just kept shooting me in my stomach and I’m like, ‘What is that pain?’ And then her best friend called me and was like, ‘Emonie got hit by a car.’ And I’m like, ‘What?'”
A few blocks away, her 12-year-old daughter lay on the pavement, barely alive. Emonie’s 14-year-old friend was already dead. Police say both ran into the street and were struck by a speeding car. The driver was cited for failure to reduce speed and yield to pedestrians. Billups rushed to the scene, only to watch the ambulance with her daughter inside pull away. Even while Billups was shocked into the most unbearable pain of her life, there was a stroke of luck.
“When the paramedics put an ID band on her, Kostner Doe, 33 years old. Mount Sinai doesn’t do pediatrics. Mount Sinai is five, six minutes from here,” Billups said.
She believes that misidentification may have helped save Emonie’s life — getting her to the life-saving hands of Dr. Grace Chang quicker.
“When she came in, she was one of our sickest trauma patients. One of the most brutal injuries I’ve seen in my career,” Chang said.READ MORE: Car Crashes Into Catering Business In Edgewater, Causing Gas Leak
Emonie had lost most of her blood. Her left leg was gone and her right leg fractured. Her arm was broken in two places. Emonie had injuries Chang said most adults wouldn’t survive.
“None of us left her side in the ICU for at least four to six hours until we knew she was kind of past that point. I told mom these next few hours are crucial in terms of if she makes it,” Chang said.
“I just lost it. I lost it,” said Billups. “She’s only 12. She has so much life ahead of her. It’s not her time. I’m like, ‘Please do whatever you can to save my baby.'”
Dr. Chang and the team at Mt. Sinai did. Once stable, Emonie was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital where she remained heavily sedated for weeks.
“When they took the tubes out and took her off the ventilator and she smiled, I said, ‘You just made my heart smile,'” Billups said.
Billups is thanking God her daughter is not only alive but also still her sweet, vibrant, loving self. But while she tries to stay strong in front of her daughter, Billups worries how the family — once homeless — will survive — financially, physically, and emotionally. For now, there’s only trust and faith and taking things one day at a time.
“I know God has the last say so because he wasn’t ready for you. I tell her that all that time. You have a purpose in life. You just have to figure that out,” she said.
Billups said street lights where her daughter and friend were hit have been out for years. She believes the dark road contributed to the driver not seeing the children.MORE NEWS: Toni Preckwinkle Along With Family, Friends Of Women Shot And Killed While Going To Work Call For Justice
CBS 2 made a public records request asking for the number of calls and complaints made to the city in the last year but has not heard back yet.