Construction workers lift vehicle off boy after accident

No superheroes arrived to lift a minivan off a 12-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon in Independence.

But what several construction workers did was super enough.

Working together to raise the vehicle’s front end, they freed Gary Hibbs Jr. from beneath it. The minivan had struck Gary after he had tried to cross four lanes of early rush hour traffic on East 23d Street on foot.

Emergency personnel took Gary by ambulance to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where he was treated for a broken collarbone and several abrasions.

“It could have been worse,” Gary Hibbs Sr., the boy’s father, said Wednesday.

The news came as huge relief to L.J. Fanning. One of several contractors and construction workers who had helped free the boy, Fanning initially feared the worst.

“After we got him free of the vehicle, he was unresponsive, and I thought he might be dead,” Fanning said.

“But then he came to.”

The Pontiac Montana’s driver told an Independence police officer that she had been headed east at 3:45 p.m. when “out of nowhere, the kid came right in front of my car.”

Fanning saw the accident from the south side of 23rd Street, where he and others are building a Dollar General store.

“He just darted across the road,” Fanning said.

The boy rolled up onto the minivan’s windshield, Fanning said. But after the vehicle came to a stop, Gary wound up trapped beneath the vehicle’s front end.

“We kind of lifted up the front end of the minivan and then told the driver to put the vehicle in reverse,” Fanning said.

“Obviously he was hurt. So we started talking to him, asking his name and trying to keep him calm.”

Sgt. John Passiglia of the Independence Police Traffic Safety Unit confirmed the sequence of events.

A westbound vehicle had narrowly missed the boy. Its driver had honked the car’s horn. Surveillance video retrieved from a restaurant on the street’s north side showed how the boy then ran into the eastbound lanes, “into steady traffic,” and was struck.

The vehicle’s wheels never actually ran over the boy, Passiglia said.

Still, he was trapped.

“They tried rocking the van back and forth but there wasn’t enough room to get the boy out,” Passiglia said. “So they asked the driver to back up and then manipulated the front end of the car.”

Everyone did a good job of keeping calm, Fanning said.

“A lot of the guys on the construction site, they just went into a different mode. I called 911 and a bunch of guys set out construction cones and started to direct traffic.”

An ambulance arrived within about two minutes, he added.

Passiglia said he anticipated no charges being filed.

Hibbs Sr., who rushed to the scene and accompanied his son in the ambulance, was unaware of the construction workers’ quick heroics.

“I’m very grateful for what they did,” he said.