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Worthington 6-year-old on the road to recovery after being struck by truck

Toby Metteer was hit by a truck while crossing the street in front of his grandparent's house on June 2.

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Older brother Ian, 10, pushes Toby Metteer along in his wheelchair.
Special to The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — Seated in a wheelchair, six-year-old Toby Metteer lets himself be pushed along the sidewalk leading into Chautauqua Park, holding a fruit drink in one hand — his left arm still tucked into a sling. It’ll be a number of weeks before he gets the OK from doctors to start handling weight and movement again.

His leg is secured in a blue cast, already adorned with signatures and messages from family and doctors. Mike Metteer, Toby’s father, points to one that says: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger in six to eight weeks,” and the family chuckles.

It has been a little over three weeks since Toby was hit by a Ford F-150 truck while crossing Nobles Street in Worthington, but he pulls himself along the edge of a picnic table with his right hand determinedly to show off the full leg cast that goes up to his hip.

Still, it’s hard to slow a six-year-old boy down. He points to the playground and goads his older brother, Ian, into pushing him some of the ways there. Back at the picnic table, he brags about a walleye he caught the other day, reeling it in on his own, while Ian holds his hands up, demonstrating that it was “this big!”

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Brothers Toby and Ian lay together on a hospital bed as Toby recovers from being hit by a truck in Worthington on June 2, 2022.
Special to The Globe

He quickly goes back to asking about the park, or playing a game and Ian once again helps wheel him off to look at the rest of the park. Metteer warns them not to go too fast; Toby is still recovering from a brain injury, and they don’t want to make him nauseated.

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It’s certainly not the summer the Metteer family had imagined.

“It’s hard, even once he’s able to bear weight again and start using crutches, he’ll have to be in a boot,” Mike explained. “His whole summer is going to be wrapped up in this.”

Mike Metteer was at work when he got the call that his son had been hit by a truck while crossing the street in front of his grandparents' house. His grandmother had been inside, resting, while Toby was helping his grandfather with the landscaping in the front yard. He’d gone to cross the street to play with one of the neighbor kids.

According to the incident report, the driver didn't see him until it was too late. She slammed on the brakes but clipped Toby with the front left bumper.

When officers arrived on the scene, he was still lying in the roadway.

“Honestly, I’m surprised there haven’t been more accidents like this,” said Metteer, talking about the 500 block of Nobles Street where his children’s grandparents live. “That close to a highway, there should be way more access to crosswalk and sidewalks over there ... but the one side is just driveway to driveway. There’s nowhere to cross over.”

Metteer left work immediately and arrived in time to follow the ambulance to Sanford Worthington Medical Center. From there, Toby was airlifted to Sanford Children’s Hospital, where doctors found he had a traumatic brain injury, along with a broken tibia and humorous bone on his left side.

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Toby Metteer, 6, in the Sanford Children's Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after being hit by a car in Worthington on June 2, 2022.
Special to The Globe

“That first week in the hospital was probably the roughest point,” said Kaylynn Minard, Mike’s girlfriend, who stayed in Sioux Falls during Toby’s recovery. “It really threw us for a loop because he was so in and out of it. He couldn’t tell us what hurts, he couldn’t really communicate and that's really a scary thing to watch.”

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Toby struggled with memory displacement during those early days of recovery, and when able to, he asked for his mom, who died in 2019. On top of the injuries, he had difficulties with eating and using the restroom, as well as communicating with family and doctors.

“About a week in, it was like this switch flipped,” Mike said. “He woke up from a nap and said he wanted some animal crackers. Since then, he’s been much more normal — or normal for Toby.”

“It was really kind of miraculous, how fast he changed,” Minard added. “I was ... glad that he kind of just came out of it as well as he did, because it really was just night and day for him.”

Released from the hospital after 11 days, Toby still has a long road to recovery ahead of him. While some of his appointments will be handled in Worthington, he has several appointments in Sioux Falls over the coming weeks and months. Once he’s out of his casts, Toby will still have to use crutches, and therapy is likely to be a months-long process for him — but his family is happy to see improvements already.

“He’s a tough little guy,” Mike said. “Always has been.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/b2f51274 to help cover costs associated with the accident.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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