When LaDerihanna Holmes’ mother saw her lying in their front yard after getting plowed into by a car, she didn’t think her daughter had survived.
But less than a week later, LaDerihanna, 9, said she expects to make a full recovery and has no doubt she’ll be back on her feet soon.
“We’ve taken a few steps on the walker — as many as I could do. I was like, I’m not going to be in the hospital for too long,” LaDerihanna told NBC News Thursday.
On Friday, she was playing in the front yard of her Lithonia, Georgia, house with a friend when a sedan careened through the yard and barreled into her. She suffered a fractured skull, and her pelvic bone was broken in three places, but those who have seen the surveillance video that captured the harrowing incident are shocked she wasn’t more badly hurt, or killed.
“From Day One, I didn’t expect her to be talking, didn’t expect her to be smiling for a while,” said LaDerihanna’s father, Derryl Holmes.
“She’s truly a miracle,” LaDerihanna’s mother, Charlette Bolton said. “From what happened to her I’m surprised she’s alive.”
LaDerihanna is in a wheelchair, undergoing physical therapy and said when she was first hospitalized she was “in a lot of pain,” but now anticipates she’ll be walking in “about a week.”
When asked if she plans to rejoin her cheerleading squad, she said “most definitely.”
“I’m coming back,” LaDerihanna said. “I’m coming soon.” Though she joked she may not be as ready to return to the classroom.
The optimistic 9-year-old said she’s grateful for her supportive family, hospital staff and strangers around the world who have heard her story and sent get-well messages.
“It’s just wonderful and overwhelming that they’re helping me and praying for me and putting me in their prayers, and it’s just so nice,” LaDerihanna said. “My goal is to get better with the help from everybody in the world.”
“She’s a strong, resilient little girl. She’s very, very strong — she keeps me strong on my every day,” Bolton said.
“I have no doubt that she’s going to make a full recovery,” Bolton said, adding that once her energetic daughter is better, she’ll won’t complain about her cheerleading stunts. “I’ll never stop her from flipping in my room again,” Bolton said, smiling.
Gabriel Jabri Fordham, 28, the man suspected of plowing into LaDerihanna and leaving her friend with lesser injuries before running away from the scene, was arrested Tuesday. A passenger can also be seen on the surveillance video running from the crash, but police have not said if that person will be charged.
Fordham is being held without bail on charges of serious injury by vehicle, failure to maintain a lane, failure to stop at a stop sign, reckless driving and hit-and-run, according to the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office. Court records show he has faced previous criminal charges of burglary, theft, assault and forgery.
Fordham’s attorney, Ryan C. Williams, said in a statement Wednesday that his client was not at fault because the other person in the car was trying “to rob and carjack my client” and “a fight ensued inside the vehicle that caused the accident.”
But LaDerihanna’s parents and their lawyer are not buying his story.
“He had five days to think about this story,” the family’s attorney, Chris Stewart, said.
“When you get carjacked you don’t get carjacked from the passenger’s side,” Bolton said. “I don’t believe it one bit. It’s outrageous.”
“There will be justice for my daughter,” Bolton said, adding that right now, she’s focused on the positive.
“I asked God to save my baby when all this was going on and he did,” Bolton said. “I’m totally grateful.”