STACYVILLE, Maine — For Nicole Botting, the days that have passed since June 2 have done so in a surreal, slow-motion haze.
There was an accident that injured her two daughters and boyfriend, then a frantic trip to a Houlton hospital followed by an even more frenetic trip to a Bangor hospital. In just the few hours after the accident, Botting saw endless white coats, heard cries of pain and bleeps of machinery, and then left the state to follow her severely injured 11-year-old daughter, Allison Botting, to a Boston hospital.
It has been close to two months since that frightening day, and Nicole Botting said Monday that the endless fog of fear and worry that has hung over her family is now starting to lift.
“It has been a nightmare,” Botting said Monday during a telephone interview from Shriners Hospital in Boston. “But Allison has made a lot of improvement, and the doctors told us that she should be able to get out of here in four more weeks.”
Allison Botting was injured June 2 outside her home at 913 Station Road when a thunderstorm blew a tree down onto power lines and sparked a fire. According to emergency responders, Allison Botting, her sister Ashley Paradis, 18, and Nicole Botting’s boyfriend, Terry Holland, had gone outside to look at the burning tree when it fell to the ground, dragging the power line down with it. The line fell on top of Botting and Paradis, striking the backs of their legs.
Holland broke his arm and dislocated his shoulder when he was thrown across the yard after touching the power line to try to get it off Allison Botting. Paradis suffered blisters and burns on her legs and feet and was treated, along with Holland, at Houlton Regional Hospital.
The 11-year-old was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and quickly transferred to Shriners Hospital, where she remains a patient. She suffered second- and third-degree burns to her legs and has had more than a dozen surgeries to remove dead tissue from her severely injured left leg. Doctors had to amputate the big toe on her left foot.
Nicole Botting remains by her daughter’s side in Boston. She has maintained that vigil ever since the accident, taking short trips home only to attend Paradis’ high school graduation last month and to complete necessary tasks.
Nicole Botting said Monday that her daughter has worked hard to get well.
“She really has made great progress,” she said. “She stood up today with the parallel bars [during rehabilitation therapy] and took a few steps. Her therapists are pushing her to walk, and Allison is getting more confident as she sees that she will be able to walk again.”
In the first few days after the accident, doctors in Boston feared they might have to amputate the girl’s left leg. At first, Allison Botting was undergoing surgery every day, but the procedures were dropped to once every two or three days as she improved. Nicole Botting said that her daughter will undergo one more surgery on Wednesday, and she expects that Allison will have to travel to Boston several times in the future for additional surgeries.
Nicole Botting said that Paradis is mostly recovered from the blisters and burns she suffered in the accident. Paradis also has spent a great deal of time at her sister’s bedside.
Immediately after the accident, residents of Stacyville and surrounding communities began collecting money for the family. While care at Shriners Hospital is free, there are other medical costs associated with the accident, as well as the out-of-pocket expenses for family members to be with Allison Botting in Boston.
Craig Hartsgrove, who owns Craig’s Maine Course in Island Falls and Craig’s Clam Shop in Patten, held benefit suppers for the family at the two restaurants he owns, raising approximately $11,000.
Members of the Island Falls Fire and Ambulance Department held a BBQ & Blues Benefit for the family in late June, raising another $840 for the family. The Stacyville Town Office has been collecting money for the family, garnering more than $7,000 by the end of June.
Nicole Botting said she was grateful to every person and every business and organization who gave time, money or well wishes to the family. She also was thankful for the support of her co-workers at Mountain Heights Healthcare in Patten.
“We have just been overwhelmed by the support we have received,” she said. “It is just unbelievable and it’s hard to find the words to express how grateful we are. A lot of the cards and donations we received were from people we don’t even know.”
Nicole Botting said she is not sure what doctors are planning as far as therapy for her daughter when she returns home.
The sixth-grade pupil at Katahdin Elementary School has been described by school personnel as a quiet child and avid reader. The mother said that Allison Botting would have to be home-schooled for at least the beginning of the school year.
Nicole Botting said her daughter is “definitely anxious to get home.”
“She misses her cats,” she said with a laugh.
Donations for the family can be mailed to the Stacyville Town Office, P.O. Box 116, Stacyville 04777. Checks can be made payable to Nicole Botting. Note that the donation is for the Botting family in the memo line.
Those who would like to send cards to Allison can mail them to Allison Botting, 84, Shriners Hospital For Children Burn Center, 51 Blossom St., Boston, MA 02114.