HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This is a story any parent, grandparent and home owner can take something away from.
Every week we routinely tend to our yards, cut grass and often, with the use of a lawnmower.
It's a mundane task that must be done.
For the Malone family, their world was forever changed one afternoon in a heartbreaking moment they relive every single day. Now they want to share their story with you, so that you can be aware of what can happen.
This is story of a young angel taken too soon. This is Shane’s story.
The sound of a lawnmower and the smell of fresh cut grass is a source of debilitating pain and heartbreak for the Malone family.
"Every day, every day,” shares Shane’s oldest sister, Christina Kennedy. “We see it, we think about it. We witness others potentially being able to make the same mistake."
Shane was 8 years old when his older brother John and sister Christina received a call to get to their parents’ home. It was six years ago on April 20,2010.
"We saw the ambulances passing in the emergency lane and at the time we didn't know that they were going to my parents’ house," recalled John.
Shane’s loving father of four often tended to the needs of the community. He had a side job of cutting neighbors’ yards and taking care of others. Christina said he took great pride in a job well done and having left behind a kept yard for a friend. Through the years Mr. Malone always stressed to his children the importance in keeping distance from the lawn mower. He told his children he wouldn’t be able to hear them well and the machine can be very dangerous.
“Kids don’t often think of the danger involved when they are that young. They think about mom and dad watching them and they don’t think about what harm could happen,” shared Christina.
On that fateful afternoon, Mr. Malone was mowing the neighbors’ grass. Christina says her father recalls looking up and seeing Shane playing by a tree and then next thing, "when Dad went in reverse the next thing he knew, it was done."
Shane had been run over by the mower. It happened in a matter of seconds.
"I got there and I just saw my dad buried in the ground just in so much pain,” remembers John. “I thought something was wrong with him I got there so I ran over and grabbed him and then I saw the ambulance loading my little brother up."
It was a helpless moment for a family who dearly loved their 8-year-old brother and son. For Mr. Malone and the rest of the family, it’s a punishing accident, that's impossible to understand.
Shane's precious life was taken in an instant.
"It's something that you never think would happen in a million years," said Christina through tear-filled eyes.
Today Shane is in a better place, as hard as that is to understand. The Malone family says he is in their every thought and prayer every single day and they want Shane's story to resonate with you and your families.
According to the Amputation Coalition there are roughly 300,000 lawnmower accidents a year. Of that, the majority are children, but 100% of them are preventable.
"We didn't realize how common these accidents were," said Christina.
More than 600 children a year suffer from the loss of a limb due to a lawnmower blade. These families gather together and find support through one another.
For John and his young son, he won't take any chances.
"I keep him indoors when mowing, said John. “It's a chance to save you a lot of heartache just to simply stay inside."
Also, talk to your children about the dangers. Create a healthy respectable fear for the power of a lawnmower and don't let them ride with you.
"It's not worth it,” advised Christina. “It's cute, it might be a fun thing to say, hey let’s ride on the mower with dad, but it can end up tragic. It could end up where your family is never the same again."
Shane was nothing short of an awesome kid surrounded by love, but this accident has forever changed a family forever.
"My parents have a hard time waking and going through a day. Every day is a new day, said Christina. “They have to take it on strongly. The thought of him and what happened is there from the moment they wake until they go to sleep."
Forever 8, Shane is an angel, spreading light over his family and helping them move forward and share his story.
It's important to have a talk with your children, no matter their age about the dangers of lawnmower safety.
The Amputee Coalition is a non-profit organization that raises awareness about limb loss. It uses these numbers from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to get your attention, and they're pretty shocking:
- Each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors
- More than 600 of those incidents result in amputation
- 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured
- One in five deaths involves a child
For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.
The Amputee Coalition offers these important safety guidelines:
1. First and foremost: Keep your children indoors and do not allow other children to play nearby while you are mowing.
2. Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.
3. Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with you.
Keep this checklist in your garage or near your mowing equipment. Go through the steps before you start your lawn mower. It only takes a minute to prevent disaster.
_____ Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
_____ Wear shoes, not sandals.
_____ Use eye and hearing protection.
_____ Start and refuel mowers outdoors, never in a garage.
_____ Refuel with the motor turned off and cool.
_____ Blade settings – ADULTS ONLY!
_____ FOR PUSH MOWERS: Only use mowers with automatic shut-off abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released.
_____ FOR RIDING MOWERS: Make sure your riding mower’s safety feature includes an automatic shut-off when the rider is not in the seat.
_____ Don’t mow in reverse.
_____ Turn off mower completely. Do not remove the grass catcher or unclog the discharge chute unless the lawnmower is off.
Parents: Explain the dangers of lawnmowers and their safe operation. Follow these simple precautions and set a good example for children.