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6-year-old Wedowee Elementary student fighting for her life after ‘freak accident’

There is a large online community that is hanging on every word that Rodney Milam can type. With each Facebook post he creates Milam’s pleas for prayers become more impassioned, and each of those pleas is met by a chorus of responses from friends and family and strangers and anyone who feels the horror of what Milam is going through.

“God is working overtime on Charlee.”

“Continued prayers for complete healing”

“We had a special prayer at church yesterday!”

“Will continue to pray until our baby comes home. Love y’all.”

The news that he posts has been steadily getting more and more hopeful after his 6-year-old daughter Charlee was accidentally run over while walking up her driveway coming home from school last Wednesday. The vehicle that struck her was being driven by a family member in what Rodney called nothing more than a “freak accident.”

“She slipped down in one of the ruts up under the back tire and it ran over her,” he said.

It’s the kind of accident that just the thought of will put any parent into a cold sweat. Charlee, a first-grader at Wedowee Elementary and the second youngest of Rodney’s five children, sustained extensive life-threatening injuries and has been hospitalized at Children’s Egleston Hospital in Atlanta since she was hit.

“That’s my angel,” Rodney Milam said Monday in a phone conversation from the hospital. “I’ve got five kids, and I love every one of them. But that’s my pet. That’s my daddy’s girl.”

Rodney has been by her side the entire time, monitoring her progress, communicating with doctors and relaying the updates as frequently as he can as she continues to recover. The news has been a mixed bag, but so far the trend of Charlee’s recovery is an encouraging one.

“She’s getting better, but she has setbacks,” Rodney said.

From last Wednesday to Monday afternoon there have been plenty of pins and needles for the Milam family, and that uncertainty began the moment Rodney arrived at the scene of the accident.

As he recalls, he got out of his vehicle and instinctively scooped up his daughter off of the dirt road and waited what seemed like an eternity for the paramedics to arrive.

“I picked up what I thought was my dead daughter in the driveway,” he said.

But she was still alive and, even better, talking to her father.

“She said, ‘Daddy I just want to see you. I want to see you.’ Her eyes were wide open, and she couldn’t see me. She was going in and out of consciousness,” Rodney said.

He handed Charlee off to the paramedics who rushed her to Tanner Medical Center in Wedowee, just minutes away from the Milam’s home on County Road 4 just north of Wedowee. From Tanner, Charlee was airlifted to Children’s in Atlanta where she has been undergoing treatment by a team of doctors and nurses virtually around the clock ever since.

And all along the way the Randolph County community back home has rallied behind Charlee. About 40 people attended a sunset prayer vigil Saturday. Rodney said groups have been in contact with him about doing benefit events to help pay for Charlee’s hospital bills. And all the while those Facebook updates have drummed up a nonstop stream of prayerful support.

“It just warms my heart that so many people are interested,” Rodney said. “A lot of people are reaching out. I believe God’s working in this. I just can’t help but believe that.”

Rodney was supposed to start a new job Monday, but that obviously has been postponed indefinitely. Charlee’s hospital stay could last for weeks or even months depending on the progress of her recovery, and Rodney plans to be there with her for as long as it takes.

“I haven’t left. I won’t leave her side,” he said.

Charlee’s status is a constantly changing thing given the severity of her injuries, but as of Monday night her vital signs had stabilized. Injuries to her lungs meant that she has been on a ventilator since early in her stay at the hospital, but doctors were able to remove the breathing tube Tuesday afternoon, allowing Charlee to breath on her own.

Positive benchmarks like that are encouraging signs to the thousands of people who are supporting the Milams. But with such a long road of recovery still ahead Rodney doesn’t want the recent positives to be a reason that people let their prayerful guard down.

His one message when he finished his conversation with the Leader:

“Just ask people to keep praying,” he said.

Jonathan Hannah leads a Saturday sunset prayer gathering for Charlee Milam (inset), who is recovering from injuries suffered when she was accidentally hit by a car last Wednesdsay.