Charles Edgar "Chaz" Dorsey V kept a poker face yesterday in the welcoming crush of reporters, television cameras, firefighters and paramedics at the Westview Fire Station.
Just over a week earlier, some of those people had worked
frantically to save Chaz's life after the horrific accident that claimed the lives of his stepmother, two stepsisters and two cousins. A car jumped the curb on Woodlawn Drive near Security Boulevard on July 20 and plowed into them at a bus stop.
Yesterday, the welcomers wore broad smiles as the 8-year-old boy, wearing a Baltimore County Fire Department baseball cap, hobbled with a walker across the station tarmac. His left leg was enveloped in an ankle-to-hip cast covered with a red, green and orange fabric.
Chaz's expression barely changed, however.
The cast was the only visible sign of his ordeal, but the psychological wounds are deep. His mother, Jackie Carpenter, 27, said he has become quiet and unresponsive since the accident.
"He knows what's going on, but he turns away," she said, adding that the boy has been in therapy at home since he left the hospital.
Charles J. Stevens, 27, the emergency medical technician who may have saved Chaz's life, gathered the boy and his mother in bear hugs. It was Mr. Stevens who, on the day of the accident, had plunged a 2-inch needle into Chaz's chest to release trapped air and re-inflate the boy's right lung.
"You made my day," Mr. Stevens told Chaz as he gave the child a fire department T-shirt, flag pins and a Junior Hero certificate that said, in part, "You brought hope from tragedy."
"How you doing? We flew you to Johns Hopkins in that helicopter," said Cpl. W. Patrick King, a State Police paramedic, as he stuck a heicopter pin on Chaz's cap.
A few minutes in the co-pilot seat of the State Police helicopter that ferried him to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center produced a tentative smile. But the real thing -- a big grin -- emerged when Chaz got to ride around the neighborhood in the cab of Fire Truck 13, with its howling siren.
Members of the police and fire departments said they arranged the welcome because they seldom get to meet with an accident victim they have helped -- especially from such a horrible accident as the Woodlawn Drive tragedy.
Helicopter pilot Norman Molter, 45, a veteran U.S. Marine flier, said, "It's a rewarding job because you're able to help people. pTC We're players on a big team with a lot of support."
Police Lt. Minda Foxwell, whose traffic officers are handling the accident investigation, presented Chaz with a McGruff the Crime Dog T-shirt and a set of police department trading cards contributed by the officers.
Chaz mumbled something; it may have been "thank you."
A fund has been set up to help defray the boy's expenses, his mother said. Contributions can be sent to The Charles Dorsey V Fund, c/o Signet Bank, 8630 Fenton St., Silver Spring 20910.