Classmates welcome survivor of train accident back to school
BY BRIDGET O’SHEA firstname.lastname@example.org May 15, 2013 6:48PM
Dominic Szymanski made his triumphant return to Hough Street School on Tuesday, two months after he was struck by a train in downtown Barrington. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2013 9:41PM
BARRINGTON — A crowd of Hough Street Elementary students cheered wildly as 11-year-old Dominic Szymanski made his return to school on Tuesday, May 14, two months after a March 15 train accident in downtown Barrington.
Walking on crutches, Szymanski addressed his classmates after making his surprise return. He thanked them for their support during his nearly three-week hospital stay, and the recovery period and rehabilitation that followed.
“Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” Szymanski said. “I really missed all you guys and I’m really happy to be back.”
Although he lost the lower part one leg in the March 15 train accident, Szymanski’s parents, Gayle and Luke Szymanski, said their son always remained positive and strong throughout the ordeal.
“It’s been amazing,” said Gayle Szymanski. “We don’t really see much of a change in him. He’s always been a positive child.”
Both parents also expressed gratitude for the Barrington and District 220 support.
“There were constant deliveries to the hospital,” Gayle said. “It was an amazing outpouring of support.”
The Szymanski’s moved from Buffalo Grove to Barrington last year.
“We’re very blessed,” Luke Szymanski said. “What a great community. The school district has been great in making this a special day for Dominic.”
Luke praised the community for playing a significant role in his son’s recovery. He also credited the staff at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where Dominic was treated immediately after the accident.
“They were miraculous,” Luke Szymanski said. “They did a great job. If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t be here today.”
Barrington firefighters and paramedics Chris Kelly, Eric Lee and Jim Goodwin, who responded at the scene of the accident, also attended the welcome back assembly. Kelly said Dominic’s rapid recovery and return to school proved nothing short of miraculous given the nature of the accident.
“The outcomes for accidents like this are usually not good,” said Kelly. “For him to be up and walking into school is fantastic.”
Lori Wilcox, Hough Street principal, said the entire staff and student body are excited to have Dominic back to finish up the year.
“It’s amazing. We’re just thrilled to have him back,” said Wilcox. “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Dominic will finish fifth grade at Hough Street and plans on attending Station Middle School in the fall. His parents said he has received tutoring since coming home from the hospital.
Dominic, who is in the process of being fitted for a prosthetic limb, will not be slowed at all.
“Dominic is an artist,” said Gayle Szymanski. “He loves to do pencil drawings and cartoons.”
“I can’t say enough,” Luke Szymanski said of all the support. “They’ve done so much.”
After the assembly, Dominic joined his classmates to watch a student production of “Romeo and Juliet.”