It happens all the time, a boy out riding his bike, hits a bump and falls off. A bruise, a scrape, and maybe a few tears is usually the result. But for one mother, what seemed like an everyday occurrence, quickly turned deadly.
Sara Hebard was at the family farm when her son, 8-year-old Liam, decided to ride his bike up and down the driveway. He suddenly had a fall and ended up with a deep cut in his thigh.
The handle bars had cut though his jeans, leaving a bloody gash.
Sara took one look and rushed Liam to the hospital. He received seven stitches and they returned home for the recovery process. “It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a bad one. It just needed a few stitches is all, that’s it,” said Sara. She added, “And he was taking it like a trooper.”
Liam was a typical second grader who loved being active and dressing in camouflage. He enjoyed roughhousing and also loved feeding the animals on the family farm. Sara didn’t think twice about the accident.
Then a few days later, Liam began to complain about intense pain in the area of the injury. Sara and Liam’s stepfather, Scott Hinkle, decided to take a look. “It was purplish-red and gangrenous looking,” said Hinkle. “We threw him in the rig and went like hell.”
They took Liam to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed him with a flesh eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis. Liam was taken into surgery at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, to remove the infected tissue.
Liam was then airlifted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where doctors continued the fight for the young boy’s life. As the bacteria spread, Liam underwent surgeries to amputate the infected tissues.
“Almost his whole right side was gone,” said his mother, Sara. “They kept cutting and hoping. Cutting and hoping.” Through it all, Liam was so brave, a real warrior.
He would tell his mother that he would be well soon and kept a great outlook the entire time.
He video chatted with friends while lying in his hospital bed and joked about all of the tubes coming out of him. Liam was the positive light for those who worried about him.
When the doctors began to run out of ideas, Liam was transferred to Randall Children’s Hospital. The hope was that new doctors could take a fresh look at the situation.
Unfortunately, Liam passed away the first night there. Sara can’t help but ask how something like this could happen. She hoped that her story would be a message to other parents about how quickly this kind of infection can spread.
“I would have to say for one, hug your children tight because you never know how quickly it goes, and then to pay attention to them and don’t just take for granted it could just be a simple accident,” said Sara.
She still has her memories of a sweet boy gone too soon.
“He was a bright ray of sunshine,” she said. “He loved everyone and everyone loved him.” Hinkle added, “He was a lovable kid. He never had a bad word to say.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.