Merced Boy Loses Foot in Lawn Mower Accident

Merced, CA This smiling picture of Tye Dutcher and his parents captures the optimistic spirit that's helping the family cope with a life-changing accident.

Pastor Jeff Leis/Yosemite Church: "The family is doing remarkably well. Obviously the first day was a lot of shock and can't believe something like that happens."

The family's pastor, Jeff Leis, says the accident happened last Thursday evening in the family's backyard. Doug Dutcher was cutting the grass with a riding lawnmower when Tye playfully snuck up behind him with a rubber band toy gun.

Pastor Leis: "His dad had ear plugs in and goggles and was busy doing his job and didn't know that Tye was barefoot behind him and when he got to the end of the lawn, he put it in reverse as he does always and obviously Tye fell down and his foot went right into the blades."

The 11 year old was airlifted to U.C. Davis medical center in Sacramento in critical condition.

Pastor Leis: "I can just barely imagine the kind of trauma that would be for Doug, so obviously he didn't feel he could drive. He called me almost immediately, called 911 and then he called me. So I met him over there and drove him up."

With his family by his side, Tye has now endured four surgeries to have his right foot amputated above the ankle. But through the pain, the 11 year old has kept a remarkably positive attitude. His parents say he's excited that he'll be getting a waterproof prosthetic foot so he can continue to swim and play water polo. And he's already hoping to visit other patients with similar injuries, including members of the military.

Pastor Leis:"I think he'll be a walking inspiration. He's got two older brothers in the military."

Tye also has two other older siblings and a city full of supporters. Many people have posted messages on his website and others have organized a series of blood drives to help Tye continue his fight. His church has also set up a trust fund in Tye's name.

Trust fund for Tye Dutcher at Yosemite Church, 2230 E. Yosemite Ave., Merced, CA phone: 209-383-5038

Blood Drive Schedule:
3/29/08 - noon to 5:30pm - Radio Merced, 1020 W. Main St. parking lot
3/30/08 - 8:30am to 2:30pm - Merced Central Presbyterian Church, 1920 Canal St.
4/02/08 - 10am to 4pm - Merced County Admin. Building, 2222 M St.
4/03/08 - 10am to 4pm - Atwater City Hall, 750 Bellevue Rd.
4/09/08 - 8:30am to 1:30pm - Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
4/13/08 - 9am to 1pm - Yosemite Church, 2230 E. Yosemite Ave.
4/22/08 - 8:30am to 2pm - Golden Valley High School in Merced, 2121 E. Childs Ave.
5/02/08 - 8:30am to 2:30pm - Buhach Colony High School in Atwater, 1800 Buhach Rd.

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