Mother is grateful daughter, 23 months old, recovering after being pinned under van

BRANDON TOWNSHIP, Minn. -- A 23-month-old girl who was run over by a vehicle Saturday, Aug. 25, is in stable condition and recovering in a Twin Cities hospital, according to her mother, Catherine Moran.
Kenzie Moran of Alexandria recovers at the Gillette Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities after being pinned underneath a van at Chippewa Park in Brandon Township, Minn., on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. Submitted photo

BRANDON TOWNSHIP, Minn. - A 23-month-old girl who was run over by a vehicle Saturday, Aug. 25, is in stable condition and recovering in a Twin Cities hospital, according to her mother, Catherine Moran.

“I was scared,” said Moran, the 32-year-old mother of six. “She’s my baby. As I saw her face, when she was pinned (under the vehicle), I knew right there I was going to do everything possible to get her out. Mommy mode kicked in.”

Kenzie Moran of Brandon was struck by a slow-moving vehicle while she was walking with her siblings across the parking lot near the beach area at Chippewa Park in Brandon Township. Jason Borstad, 32, of Alexandria, was moving forward as he was parking when the girl was struck, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Several people who were also at the park were able to get the girl out from under the vehicle, according to the report. The sheriff’s office, which received the call at approximately 4:20 p.m. Saturday, is investigating the incident.

From the park, a LifeLink III helicopter airlifted the little girl to Gillette Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities.

Kenzie was initially in the pediatric intensive care but was released Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Moran said in an interview Monday that she brought her kids - Eric, 14; Kailee, 10; Aiden, 7; Ethan, 4; Kaitlynn, 3; and Kenzie - to the Douglas County park on Saturday for a picnic and a swim.

She explained that one of her sons and Kenzie were walking to her vehicle to get a life jacket for Kenzie and to help unload the car with help from the other kids, since they had just arrived at the park. Moran had taken their cooler from the car to their picnic table when she looked up and saw her son, but not Kenzie.

“That’s when I heard him scream that someone just ran over Kenzie,” Moran said. “In that same moment, I looked down and saw my daughter’s face under the van. It was the most scariest moment of my life.”

Moran said several people at the park came running over and helped to rescue her daughter. She called out for someone to call 911 and learned later that Amber Buse was the one who made the call.

Moran asked those around her to lift the front vehicle off her little girl. Moran said the girl was pinned under the axle next to the driver’s side front wheel.

She said it took a few minutes from the time the incident happened until the van could be lifted and her daughter pulled out from underneath it.

“I didn’t know a soul, but they were the most amazing people in the world,” Moran said. “They came to the rescue of my daughter and didn’t think twice about it. I want to thank everyone who helped lift that van off my daughter. They are my heroes.”

Moran also praised the first responders for helping her every step of the way in what she again called the scariest day of her life.

“I am just so thankful for everyone. I could never thank them all enough,” she said.

While the paramedics were working on Kenzie, Moran said she was able to talk with the driver of the van.

“He was very remorseful and I could see it in his eyes, his sadness,” she said. “His reaction was more shock. I know he didn’t see her.”

Emergency personnel worked on Kenzie on the ground before moving her to the ambulance to get her ready for the helicopter flight, Moran said. After LifeLink III arrived, they took her daughter from the ambulance area to where the helicopter was staged and then took off for Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities.

“I did not get to go in the helicopter as I was the only one there with my children,” said Moran. “Once I got the children situated and family could be with them, I made my way to be with her.”

Kenzie has some scrapes and bruises on her back and the side of her head. One of her big toes was severed and broken, but Moran said doctors were able to sew it back on and stitch it up. Kenzie did not have any brain swelling or damage, her mother said, and will be fitted for a walking boot for the toe injury.

In a Facebook post Sunday afternoon, Moran wrote that her daughter was, “The strongest lil’ lady in the world. She has blown me away. I’m so proud of her.”

Moran also noted that Kenzie has a long road to recovery, but that she is optimistic.