Leah Dinchak, 5, was scheduled to start kindergarten at Trevor-Wilmot School before she suffered critical injuries in a crash in Lindenhurst (Contributed photo/The Report).

She was struck by vehicle in Illinois

By Jason Arndt

For any parent, a child starting kindergarten is a moment to cherish, but a Trevor girl’s plans have been put on hold after she was struck by a car in Illinois on Aug. 10.

Leah Dinchak, 5, who planned to attend Trevor-Wilmot School, is still recovering at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. from the critical injuries she suffered in the crash.

The crash happened in Lindenhurst, according to police, who stated she was struck while walking with her family as they crossed Grand Avenue from Hillcrest Lane at about 7 p.m.

The family said they were heading to Lindenfest.

“She flew up into the air and landed 20 feet away. I saw my baby’s body bounce several times like a rag doll,” her mother, Jenni, said on a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for medical expenses. “I can’t stop replaying it in my head. We were all holding hands but I was not holding Leah’s hand directly.”

“This is a decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she added.

She was transported to Condell Medical Center from which Flight for Life helicopter airlifted her Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge.

According to her family, Leah likely suffered a traumatic brain injury, and doctors indicated she had bleeding and swelling of her brain.

As of Monday, the bleeding and swelling has subsided, but she still faces a long recovery.

“Leah is waking up slowly. That does not mean she is awake,” her family states. “The best way to describe it is that she is aware.”

“She has not opened her eyes more than some small cracks here and there. She does blink,” the family added.

Although she is waking up slowly, Leah had her ventilator removed on Monday by medical officials, who said she is able to breathe on her own.

The family, meanwhile, is able to hold Leah for brief periods.

“Blake and I have gotten to hold her briefly while they are changing out her bed,” Jenni said. “In addition, we have been able to help more with her care. That feels good.”

A preliminary exam, according to her family, revealed she could have suffered a diffuse axonal injury, but will not know until she undergoes an MRI.

“This essentially means that the injury and bleeding did not just occur in one spot,” Jenni said. “Something called shearing took place and there are bleeds in multiple areas.”

Meanwhile, as Leah recovers, the Lindenhurst community has stepped up, her mother said on Monday.

“The outpouring of support from the Lindenhurst community has been overwhelming and heartfelt,” Jenni Dinchak said. “We have been receiving messages of encouragement from the community daily.”

The community recently held a candlelight vigil on Aug. 17 at Slove Park.

Since Aug. 12, when the GoFundMe page was launched for the family, the fundraising site has brought in more than $18,000.

“We don’t know how we could ever repay them, but want to let everyone know how immensely grateful we are,” Jenni said on Monday.

The driver of the vehicle, Lindenhurst Police Chief Tom Jones said, cooperated with authorities and remained on the scene after the crash.

Jones said authorities are still investigating the accident.

“We are still working with the Major Crash Assistance team. We are still awaiting on those results from the team,” said Jones.

To help the Dinchak family, visit www.gofundme.com, and search #LeahStrong.


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