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IRVINE : Paralyzed Boy Is Home; Parents Seek Miracle

October 12, 1994|RUSS LOAR

Eight-year-old Trent McGee returned home from the hospital last week, three months after he was paralyzed in a traffic accident caused by the driver of a stolen car who ran a red light.

He remains paralyzed from the neck down and must use a respirator to breathe. Just across the street from the McGee home, the sounds of children at recess can be heard from the school where Trent attended second grade last year.

His parents are now praying for a miracle, that Trent's paralysis is temporary and that he will return to school and the life he once had.

"You just can't tell with a spinal cord injury," said Cheryl McGee, Trent's mother. "He could make a full recovery--that's what we're hoping for."

When he travels outside his home, Trent uses a portable respirator attached to his small wheelchair. At home, he plays video games, thanks to a device created by Loma Linda University rehabilitation specialist Dave Warner. With electrodes taped to his face, Trent operates the games by moving facial muscles.

Trent was riding in the family station wagon with his mother and older sister on July 11 when Dana Point resident John Eric Phelps, 31, crashed into their car after running a red light at an Irvine intersection. His mother and sister were not seriously injured.

Phelps was fleeing from police in a stolen Mercedes. He pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to seven years in state prison.

At Stone Creek Elementary School, Trent's classmates recently raised $3,000 to help pay for the cost of his medical care.

"They've stayed by him all the way through," Stone Creek Principal Marilyn Young said. "He doesn't want to accept this at all. His desire is to be out and playing and jumping around. I'll be glad when he gets back, even if it's in a wheelchair."

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