Teen hit by bus goes home

SEATTLE – Despite broken legs elevated beneath a blue plaid blanket, Keito Swan chose to count his good fortune Tuesday – five weeks after being hit and dragged 100 feet by a school bus.

He was able to breathe the cool autumn air for the first time in 40 days.

He was able to successfully lobby for a trip to McDonalds, a major step up after weeks of hospital cuisine.

Michael V. Martina / The Herald

Keito Swan, 16, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School student, was struck by a bus on Oct. 27. He returned home from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Tuesday for the first time since the accident and doctors believe he will fully recover with rehabilitation.

He was able to drive up to a large “Welcome home, Keito” sign friends put on the garage door at his home. He looked forward to sleeping in his own bed.

The 16-year-old from Marysville, who arrived by helicopter in critical condition Oct. 27, left Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon in his family’s silver minivan.

Keito, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School junior and student leader, survived being struck by a bus as he crossed a dark stretch of 108th Street NE around 7 a.m. near the school.

“I was lucky,” he said.

The family’s biggest immediate concern Tuesday was how their dog would react upon seeing Keito again. Lizzy, a German shorthair pointer, was eager for him to throw a rubber ball, but will need to learn to control her excitement and not jump on him.

Keito has several fractures in his right leg from the ankle up, a broken pelvis and broken collarbone. He has undergone extensive skin grafts from his back to repair damaged tissue to his legs.

His weight has dwindled to 105 pounds on his 5-foot, 8-inch frame.

Keito said Tuesday he remembers nothing about the accident, but is grateful for the outpouring of goodwill.

He will return to school gradually in coming weeks as he tries to build up stamina and transition from a wheelchair to crutches. He faces months of physical therapy.

“I realize I had a lot of support through this whole thing from the community, my school and all my friends,” Keito said.

His mother, Kaori Tutewohl, described little acts of kindness that eased the family’s ordeal – the garbage can that would find its way to the curb on pickup day, the dinners that appeared on the doorstep, the messages of support from people they did not know.

James Tutewohl, Keito’s step-father, said the family continues to work toward making the walk to school safer.

“It’s an accident,” he said. “We just look at the positive side of it. (Keito’s) here. We can make him better.”

The family and others will continue to press for safety improvements along the stretch of 108th Street NE leading to the school.

Snohomish County PUD has already installed street lights, brightening the roadway.

Pedestrian and school zone speed limit signs have been installed. Plans are under way to add a stretch of sidewalk on the south side of the roadway and to add “rumble strips” bumps in the road to remind motorists to slow down.

Dr. Matthew Klein, who treated Keito at Harborview, said the goal is for the teenager to make a full recovery.

That’s a stark contrast to shortly after the accident when his mom remembers a doctor telling her he’d done his best to save Keito’s legs. She wondered if he would ever walk again.

Klein credited Keito’s motivation and strong family support for his progress.

“I think it’s very clear he has done outstanding,” Klein said, nodding toward his patient.

The accident gave Keito perspective on how fragile life can be, even for healthy teenagers.

Other patients he encountered were badly injured. Some had head injuries that may affect them for life.

“It just makes me more eager to get better, just to be able to say, ‘I am better,’” he said. “I don’t know if they can.”

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or stevick@heraldnet.com.

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