4-year-old boy survives internal decapitation

A 4-year-old boy who was internally decapitated when the car he was riding in crashed during a hail storm was released from the hospital on Sunday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Killian Gonzalez suffered the horrific injury while he and his mother, Brandy, were traveling the icy roads back to Nevada from Idaho after celebrating the boy’s birthday in May, according to a GoFundMe page set up for Killian and Brandy. Their car smashed head-on into another vehicle, fracturing both of Brandy’s legs and her left arm. The other driver was not seriously injured.

Killian, however, had devastating injuries: A right arm fracture, broken ribs, bruised lungs, ruptured spleen – and an internal dislocation of his skull from his spine.

In an internal decapitation, the head is connected to the spine only by strands of tissue or muscle. About 70 percent of those inflicted with the injury die immediately and 15 percent more die at the hospital, according to medical journals.

But as Killian and Brandy’s accident unfolded, an Idaho police officer traveling in the area with his wife witnessed the crash and quickly sprang into action. Leah Woodward held Killian’s head perfectly still for a half hour until emergency responders arrived. The action likely saved the boy’s life.

“I’m trying to stay calm, but inside I’m panicking,” Woodward told KBOI. “I’m thinking, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ and it was the worst feeling I’ve ever had to not know how to help.”

Killian was taken to the hospital and doctors stabilized his head and neck using several different collars. No surgery was required, KBOI reported.

Brandy is grateful for Woodward’s quick thinking.

“She saved my baby,” Brandy said. “She gave him back.”