Girl seriously injured in St. Francis pedestrian crash surprises classmates

It has been nine weeks since a car hit two girls, who were walking in a crosswalk in St. Francis in front of their middle school.

Annie LaMotte spent about a week in the hospital, but for Kaia Bollman, there were moments doctors questioned whether she would live. Kaia suffered a brain injury, so the recovery process has taken much longer. 

Thursday night, Kaia got to leave the hospital for a short, special trip. She surprised her friends in her middle school show choir backstage before their performance and received applause during the show. It was the first time she had been back to St. Francis Middle School since the crash in November.

“Every kid in there was crying last night,” said Chris LaMotte, Annie’s dad.

Ever since the crash, both Annie's parents and Kaia's parents have been pushing for changes at the intersection where the girls were hit. 

The parents say they would like a traffic light for the crosswalk, but more importantly, a bridge or tunnel, so students can safely get to and from the school. Just a couple hours before the big surprise, Annie's dad, Chris, and Kaia's grandmother met with Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. 

“Since the election there is new leadership in MNDOT,” said Chris LaMotte. “For what it’s worth they are fast tracking this.” 

But in a sad twist of fate, Chris LaMotte wasn't there for Kaia's long-awaited surprise. Just outside the school, he was the first on the scene of a crash between two cars at the very same spot where his daughter and her best friend were struck. 

“We could feel it in the truck, like Lisa said, she thought we got hit,” said Chris LaMotte. “In my head, I just went, ‘Oh my God not again.’” 

Chris LaMotte is thankful the injuries in the crash he witnessed were minor, but after witnessing what Kaia and Annie have been through, he's pushing for changes harder than ever. 

“It definitely steadied my resolve to see something happen there,” he said. “It’s just popped up all fresh again. Let’s make sure this gets fixed.”

Later this month, MnDOT leaders and city officials will be meeting together to discuss possible changes to the intersection. The girls’ families are planning to attend. 

Kaia's grandmother says Kaia is tentatively scheduled to be released from the hospital February 8. She hopes to leave the hospital briefly again on Tuesday when the three heroes who stopped to help the girls the night of the crash will be recognized by the City of St. Francis.