SHERIDAN — A local student is alive but has a low chance of survival as a result of injuries suffered after being pulled under a school bus Monday afternoon.
Six-year-old Esperanza Lagunes-Aarstad remains in a coma as a result of swelling in her brain, which has increased in the past 24 hours.
Lagunes-Aarstad’s mother Kayla Lagunes-Rivera and stepfather Terry Dieleman said doctors are starting to wean the child off medication in an attempt to reduce brain swelling. Lagunes-Rivera and Dieleman said parts of her brain are not receiving enough blood and oxygen due to a damaged carotid artery, but Lagunes-Aarstad is still battling for now.
“She’s trying to stay alive,” Lagunes-Rivera said.
Doctors at Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, will test Lagunes-Aarstad’s brain function Friday morning, but their outlook is not hopeful.
“They are pretty much set on her not surviving,” Lagunes-Rivera said. “They think she will lose her life … We’re preparing for the worst.”
Doctors told family members to spend as much time as possible with Lagunes-Aarstad Wednesday night.
“In other words, that was pretty much them saying, ‘You need to say your last goodbyes,’” Dieleman said.
Lagunes-Rivera has thought often during the past few days about an instance when she walked outside and found Lagunes-Aarstad meditating in their yard.
“She was always a happy little girl,” Lagunes-Rivera said.
With heartbreaking news likely on the way, Dieleman said returning to Sheridan will feel similar to a bad dream.
“From the way everybody’s making it sound, we’re not going to come home with her,” Dieleman said.
Lagunes-Rivera shared a similar sentiment.
“It feels like I’m in a nightmare and I can’t wake up,” she said.
Lagunes-Rivera and Dieleman clarified Wednesday that Lagunes-Aarstad attends Woodland Park Elementary School and was transferring buses at Henry A. Coffeen Elementary School when the incident occurred.
Lagunes-Rivera hopes Sheridan County School District 2 considers changing its bus pickup procedure to prevent dangerous occurrences from happening in the future.
“I can’t stress enough that I want something in place so this doesn’t happen to another family,” Lagunes-Rivera said. “I don’t want anybody going through the pain that I’m going through right now. It’s unbearable. No parent should have to go through this.”
The community is continuing to rally support. As of noon Thursday, the family’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $18,000 from 342 people.
SCSD2 has indefinitely declined comment about the incident going forward.