DANVERS — A soft-spoken Kaleigh Halloran told jurors yesterday how being struck by a car on her way to school one morning two years ago has left her with scars and a limp and how frightened she was to face multiple operations to repair the damage.
"I hurt my head, and I don't remember too much about what happened," Halloran testified in a civil lawsuit filed by her parents against the driver who struck her, Thomas Bussone III, on the morning of Oct. 6, 2008.
Halloran, then 11, was walking to a school bus stop on Centre Street with her friend Emily Murphy, and they were crossing the street, in a crosswalk, when Bussone hit them with his Volvo.
Halloran's parents are seeking reimbursement for medical bills as well as damages for the pain and suffering of both their daughter and themselves. Their lawyer, Kevin James, suggested to Salem Superior Court jurors on Wednesday that Bussone was negligent, not paying attention to the road, as he drove that morning.
Bussone and his lawyer, Charles Gale, say that a tree blocked his view of the girls as they came down the sidewalk and into the crosswalk and contend that the girls were running at the time.
"I remember getting to the crosswalk and looking both ways, and I didn't see any cars coming," Halloran testified under questioning by James. The next thing she recalls is being on the ground.
"It just felt like it wasn't real," she said, her voice cracking slightly at the memory.
Halloran spent four days at Children's Hospital and would return later for additional surgeries.
"I remember going in, before surgery, and being really scared," she told jurors.
And she was fearful of what would happen when she was sent home.
"I just remember being really scared it was going to hurt," she said.
She spent three months using a wheelchair to get around, requiring around-the-clock care from her mother, Denise, who had to take a leave from work to care for her daughter. She missed months of school, returning the following January, on crutches that she worried would make her late for class.
Bussone's lawyer, meanwhile, focused on Halloran's activity since the crash, questioning her at length about her involvement in cheerleading.
Gale asked her about high jumps, splits and stunts she takes part in on her squad. He also asked her about trips to the beach and swimming in her own pool and about how she's caught up at school.
Gale also questioned her about the effects of her injuries.
"Do you limp all the time?" Gale asked the girl.
"Yes," Halloran responded.
"Every day?" Gale asked.
"Yes," she said.
Jurors also heard from Denise Halloran, who wept as she recalled seeing her daughter on the pavement after the crash, and from Emily Murphy, who was also struck that day.