Survivor Of Street Sweeper Accident Reunites With First Responders

ROGERS, Ark. (KFSM) —  In June of 2017, Teresa Ayala was at her Rogers home taking care of her newborn when a street sweeper suddenly barreled through her house.

First responders were called after the driver of the street sweeper lost control going down the hill, pinning the mother and her two-week-old son Juan Antonio.

"It turned out exactly to be what we were afraid it might be, worst case scenario," said Captain Josh Chapman with the Rogers Fire Department.

Teresa's daughter, Brisa Ayala, who was just 7-years-old at the time heard the crash and saw the aftermath.

"I thought she dropped something really loud like a glass or something because it was loud and so I wanted to go see. I checked and then I saw like wood and lots and lots of dust," said Brisa.

Brisa says she could hear her little brother crying from underneath the 4-ton machine as she tried reaching out for him.

"I kept screaming and crying because I thought I was going to lose them that day," said Brisa.

Rogers EMS crews acted fast assessing the situation and coming up with a plan to save the mom and her baby.

"Basically, at that point, all we could do was kind of sedate her for all intents and purposes, while we extricated her from the situation," said paramedic Josh Whittington.

Teresa's husband was at work when he got the call.

"They said there was a big problem at my house. I called my wife and she didn't answer the phone and I just got worried, and they told me you have to hurry up and come," said Rigoberto Ayala.

He says when he arrived on the scene it was chaos and his concern grew because he couldn't find his family. He admits he was angry at God.

"I said why'd you do this to her. It was the worst day that I ever passed because I didn't know how exactly this was going to end," said Rigoberto.

Teresa and Juan Antonio were taken by helicopter to a hospital in Springfield.

The baby suffered from broken bones and a swollen head but had a speedy recovery. Teresa was in more serious condition with multiple fractures and a cracked skull.

"I was in bed 24 hours, just like this, I couldn't even move this side, or this side and it was very hard for me," said Teresa.

Despite doctors believing, she would never walk again Teresa is now on her feet after several surgeries and months of rehab.

She still has gaps in her memory and vision loss in one eye, but for this 42-year-old she says it's her belief in God that got her through this difficult time.

"I'm happy because he heard what I wanted. He saved me in that accident because that's what I asked him, to let me see my baby grow up," said Teresa.

Juan Antonio, now almost two, is thriving. Brisa has settled into her role as big sister and dad attends church with his family.

Rigoberto says their survival restored his faith.

"They're a miracle, my daughter too," said Rigoberto.

First responders say the way Teresa shielded her son protected him and saved his life, but to her, it`s the first responders who get a lot of the credit.

"None of us got into this job to become famous or superheroes. We did it because we wanted to help people," said Whittington.

To them, Teresa has this to say.

"Thank you all the doctors, I want to say thank you to all the rehab people, all the people who prayed for me. Thank you," said Teresa.

Benton County officials reached a $1.5 million dollar settlement with the family to help cover medical expenses.

The driver of the street sweeper tested positive for marijuana and resigned from his position a month after the accident.

No criminal charges were filed.

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