As 13-year-old fights for his life, local kids launch helmet fundraiser, hope to spread critical message

ST. GEORGE —After witnessing 13-year-old Tavin Leonard get critically injured Saturday while riding his skateboard without a helmet, Leonard’s friend Seth Herring and little brother Drayden Leonard launched a fundraiser to purchase helmets for kids and spread a critical message.

Seth’s mother, Allison Bornhoeft, told St. George News she and her husband were just leaving their house Saturday in Desert Canyons to go meet some friends visiting from Las Vegas for lunch. As they were leaving, she said she saw Seth with Tavin and Drayden on their skateboards getting pulled behind a Jeep being driven by Tavin’s aunt. None of the kids were wearing helmets.

“They were going really slow,” Bornhoeft said. “Immediately I was like, ‘Oh that’s not safe,’ and then I was like, ‘Take a breath; they’re going slow.'”

Bornhoeft, who told St. George News she is often known to be the parent to “take away the fun,” said that even though she knew it wasn’t the safest thing they could be doing, “it was on the safe side of dangerous.”

“I looked in my rearview mirror as we were pulling away, and Seth and Drayden were on the back, and I saw Tavin on the side. He was hanging onto the passenger rear door. His board was kind of by the wheel because he was getting pulled.”

L-R: Seth Herring and Drayden Leonard have launched a fundraiser to purchase bike helmets for kids who don’t have one, St. George, Utah, Oct. 28, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Allison Bornhoeft, St. George News

Because they were being pulled by the aunt, she said she felt that they were all being extra safe.

After driving away, they headed toward the interstate to meet with their friends. As soon as they exited Southern Parkway and merged onto Interstate 15, Bornhoeft saw an ambulance and fire truck exiting the interstate heading the opposite direction.

Her first thought, she said, was that someone got hurt at mountain bike tournament that was happening at the time.

“And then 2 seconds later, Seth called me, and he was like, ‘Mom, you know how we were getting pulled behind the Jeep? Well, Tavin got hurt.’”

Her son proceeded to tell her that Tavin had been run over by the Jeep. The accounting of events told on the boys’ GoFundMe page says that Tavin’s wheel made contact with Jeep’s wheel and threw the boy off his board.

Bornhoeft and her husband immediately turned around and drove back home. By the time they got there, Tavin was being loaded into the ambulance, she said, and Seth was sitting on the curb with some paramedics who were making sure her son was OK.

Tavin Leonard was rushed to the hospital and flown to Las Vegas, Nevada, after he was thrown off his skateboard, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Allison Bornhoeft, St. George News

They followed the ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center, where Tavin was then flown to Las Vegas.

Bornhoeft said Tavin is sedated on a breathing tube and has “three brain bleeds. He also tore his carotid artery and has facial fractures.”

Following the traumatic event, Seth and Drayden wanted to do something for Tavin but didn’t know what to do, Bornhoeft said, as someone had already set up a fundraiser for medical bills.

“My son was blaming himself,” she said, adding that Seth said he recognized what they were doing wasn’t safe and was feeling like it was his fault for not stopping it from happening.

Even though Bornhoeft said her son probably couldn’t have stopped his friend from the activity, she asked the other two boys what they thought could’ve changed the outcome, to which they said, “We needed to wear helmets.” This realization launched the idea for raising money to buy helmets for kids who don’t have one.

Beyond purchasing the helmets, the idea is to let kids know that wearing one doesn’t make someone look stupid, which is what Seth used to think. He told St. George News he hopes other kids will see this and wear a helmet.

So far, between a Facebook fundraiser and GoFundMe, they have raised just over $400. When they had the first $100 donated, Seth said he was blown away.

“I was really surprised that so many people cared.”

On the GoFundMe page, the boys say this about wearing helmets:

We never thought they were that important. We never thought you could get that hurt. We want to raise money and buy as many helmets as we can and give them out to kids in our neighborhood and schools who don’t have one! We want to spread the word that, wearing a helmet could save this from happening to you. Tavin we love you bro! Get better so we can get back on our boards. With helmets this time.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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