Toddler fighting for her life at Primary Children’s Hospital following alleged hit-and-run

ST. GEORGE — A toddler is at Primary Children’s Hospital after she was struck by a motorcycle Saturday near her home in St. George. The rider of the motorcycle remains in jail on felony charges, including DUI.

Jaxynn Love Turner is admitted to Dixie Regional Medical Center after being struck by a motorcycle in St. George, Utah, Dec. 6, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Travis Munson, St. George News

The incident took place shortly after 6 p.m. when officers were dispatched to a crash involving a motorcycle that struck 22-month-old Jaxynn Love Turner. According to authorities, the rider allegedly failed to stop following the incident.

Nick Turner, the child’s father, told St. George News in a phone interview from Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City that their daughter was critically injured in the crash.

In addition to suffering a fractured clavicle, a lacerated liver and bruising to her brain and her lungs, Turner said she also suffered significant trauma to her heart, which caused an abnormal bulge or “ballooning” in the lower wall that separates the right and left ventricle. The injury was discovered shortly after the toddler was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center and the doctor detected a heart murmur that hadn’t been previously diagnosed.

At that point the child was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital and placed on the heart transplant list, Turner said, and the medical team in charge of the child’s care consulted with pediatric cardiac specialists to come up with a game plan.

“They had never seen that type of injury to a child before,” Turner said. “We were told the team reached out to pediatric surgeons all over the country to assist.”

Shortly thereafter, Turner said he and his wife were told that doctors had opted to keep the toddler in the ICU and monitor her heart as it heals to determine how much scar tissue develops during the process, as too much scarring can damage the heart to the point it can no longer function. He also said his daughter will remain on the heart donor list in the interim.

“They are monitoring her very closely right now, and she’s still in the red zone,” he said, adding that there is risk of the aneurysm bursting, “at which point we would lose our daughter.”

Jaxynn Love Turner playing in yard before Dec. 5, 2020, accident that left her seriously injured, St. George, Utah, photo date not specified| Photo courtesy of Nick Turner, St. George News

The series of events that led up to the trip to Primary Children’s Hospital began Saturday when one of the Turner’s neighbors was looking out the window and saw a motorcycle swerve in the roadway near the corner of 570 North and 1590 West, approximately a block from Sunset Elementary School.

The neighbor told Turner they initially thought the rider swerved to avoid hitting a dog or cat but then realized it was a child that was struck. They called 911 as they ran to check on the toddler who was in the street and unresponsive. Another neighbor started CPR, Turner said, while the ambulance was en route.

He said he and his wife were inside of their home when one of the neighbors ran up to the house and told them a little girl had been struck and seriously injured at the end of the street. Confused, Turner said their daughter had been watching a movie with one of the older children minutes before, and they believed she was still inside of the house.

Once they discovered their daughter was nowhere to be found, he ran to the corner where he saw the unconscious toddler being loaded into the ambulance to be transported to the hospital.

He said the side door to their garage doesn’t always close all the way, so they believe that is where their daughter got out, adding they think she was trying to reach the field at the elementary school when the incident took place.

“Jaxynn was wearing only a onesie and some socks at the time,” he said.

Photo of Jaxynn Love Turner taken before Dec. 5, 2020, accident that left her seriously injured, St. George, Utah, photo date not specified | Photo courtesy of Nick Turner, St. George News

Shortly after arriving at the emergency room, the couple were advised of the child’s significant injuries, and she was admitted into the hospital that night. The following evening, Turner accompanied his daughter for the flight to Primary Children’s Hospital so she could be treated by a team of pediatric cardiac specialists. His wife followed shortly after once care for the older children was arranged.

As of Thursday night, the toddler is still in “the red zone,” Turner said, but she is stable and her heart rate had dropped from 170 beats per minute to normal levels. She regained consciousness on Wednesday, he said, adding that she is “coming around a little bit” and opens her eyes when she hears a familiar voice.

Turner went on to say the care at Primary Children’s Hospital has been amazing and that from start to finish, his daughter has been very well cared for.

“They were ready and started a battery of tests as soon as we arrived,” he said, adding the care their daughter has received is “so far beyond any expectations we could have ever had.”

The toddler is expected to remain in the hospital for the next two months or so, he said, depending on whether a heart transplant will be necessary, so arrangements have been made for the couple to remain in Salt Lake City while making trips to see the older children.

Travis Munson, Turner’s coworker, reached out to St. George News via email Tuesday with a link to a GoFundMe account he set up to help the family with the loss of income and other associated costs.

The motorcycle rider, 62-year-old Gregory McClary, was arrested hours after the incident and has since been charged with felony DUI and failing to remain at the scene of an accident, also a third-degree felony. He remains in jail without bail.

This report is based on an interview with the child’s parent and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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

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