“A 13-year-old Stearns Street girl was injured Wednesday when the second-floor rail she was leaning on gave way and she fell to the ground. Desiree Conroy was flown by helicopter to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford with possible abdominal and neck injuries. A hospital spokeswoman said she was in serious condition Wednesday night. Neighbors and family said the girl was on the second-floor porch of an apartment building at 46-48 Stearns St. about 7:30 p.m. when the wooden railing she was leaning on broke loose. The girl fell about 20 feet onto a metal handrail and the building’s concrete front steps. “She landed hard, on her knees,” said neighbor Norm Farmer. The railing around the second- floor porch was called loose and rotting. Slats were missing in one spot, leaving a big gap. “We’ve told the landlord to fix it, but he takes his sweet time to do it,” said Conroy’s brother-in-law, Charles Abbrianno, who also lives in the building.”
This is what made the headlines of the paper on June 5, 1997.
Rewind: My mother, stepfather and myself lived on Stearns St, my step-sister Marsie also lived on Stearns St about 6 houses away. My stepfather Dale did a lot of work for our landlord who also owned the house that my sister Marsie lived in. During this time in life, my parents were still on a downward spiral and I spent A LOT of time at Marsie’s house.
Two nights before this incident I had a bad dream that I fell off Marsie’s side porch and died. It seemed so real that I woke up the next morning in a panic. That next day I avoided going near the porches. I took it as a sign and it made me on edge. That night my stepfather Dale had the same dream. He woke up the next day and told me about it. I explained to him that I had the same dream the night before. It was very bizarre but we both quickly forgot about and went on with our day.
It was Thursday night and I went out on to the upstairs front porch when I see the neighbors 4-year-old son out there (thinking maybe the dream was really about him). I knew the porch was unsafe and wanted to get him off. Once I got him off the porch my niece Brittany and some other neighborhood kids had asked me to throw them down a hula hoop that was up there. I went to toss it down to them and as I leaned in to toss it down, I must have placed to much weight onto the railing.
The railing gave away and I went with it. For a flashing second, it felt surreal, like one of those bad dreams of falling and you wake up immediately. Except that was not what it was. It was very real. I blacked out. I heard the screams and talking all around me but could not see anything. I felt hopeless, I couldn’t move, I could barely breathe, and nothing was happening fast enough. I truly thought I was going to die in that front yard.
I heard someone say that my parents were on their way down. When they arrived, my mother went into mom mode right away. She was asking me to move my fingers, my toes, and trying to evaluate the situation to the best of her ability until the ambulance got there. She was telling me to try not to move, that help was on the way and I was going to be ok. I did not feel like I even had a choice to move as I was not able to feel anything.
I remember hearing the ambulance pull up and again hearing everyone talking. The EMT’s that arrived were getting me onto a stretcher and they were telling my mom that it seemed like I may have just had the wind knocked out of me and then superficial wounds to the face and knees, they were going to just bring me to the hospital ER down the street.
My mother continued to say that I was going to be ok. The first words I could utter back to her was that I was not ok. My mother knew at that moment that something was truly wrong. The 7-year old’s that seen the fall began to tell the EMT’s that when I fell my body folded over the cast iron railing before I fell to the ground, which is how I was when they arrived. They began to listen to my stomach and chest again. Chaos soon broke out.
They rushed me into the ambulance and drove me to the local high school. When we arrived at the high school there was a helicopter there waiting to airlift me to the Children’s Hospital. I was losing blood fast and need to be at a hospital even faster. In the helicopter, the medics were trying to put an oxygen mask on my face and I became very combative. I already felt like I couldn’t breathe and having a mask on my face even though it was pushing oxygen made me feel even more constricted.
In the helicopter the medics and my mother were yelling at me to put the mask on, I continued to refuse. They told me if I did not get the mask on, I was going to die. I was not convinced at that point that this was not what was already happening. They threw the mask to the side and finally gave in, they explained to me that my lung was collapsed, and I needed oxygen, this was why I couldn’t breathe. Instead of the mask, they placed the tubes thing under my nose.
My stepfather beat us to the hospital and they rushed me in. I remember seeing bright lights and a ton of nurses, a strange number of male nurses. They started to cut my clothes off and I freaked out again becoming combative. I did not want all these male nurses cutting my clothes off dying or not. My mother came to my side to soothe me and try to get me to calm down. We just did not have that calm and reassuring relationship. I demanded Dale be brought into the room.
Dale came in and I immediately became calm. Going through this trauma and still believing I was going to die I held on to the fact that I could trust him because he doesn’t lie to me, he protects me, and he can be pretty scary, so everyone would make sure they did all they could. I felt a little calmer knowing that he would make sure I would have a fighting chance.