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Injured hit-and-run victim focusing on 'truly heroic' rescuer
With daily thoughts of her rescuer and the lengths he went to find her, Comox Valley hit-and-run victim Molly (Megan) Burton is focusing on the "truly heroic" man to get herself through her long recovery.
Burton, 24, suffered critical injuries to her lower right leg and right arm Sept. 11 when she was struck by a vehicle on Comox Road and lay in nearby brush for several hours.
A 16-year-old Comox Valley teen was identified as the suspect driver.
Burton has since had four surgeries on her leg in hospital in Victoria and will require more, said her mother, Leslie Wells.
"She is exhausted … and in a lot of pain, but today (Friday) is the first day where we've been able to downgrade our worry a little bit and she might keep her leg," added Wells.
After she was struck, Burton remained in a blackberry bush for approximately four hours until Brody Fullerton heard her screams for help.
Fullerton, who was on his boat across the water near the Courtenay Airpark, took out his flashlight and examined the brush, thinking someone might have been lost.
He took his bike and searched the bushes for Burton's voice, and found her about 45 minutes later.
"He kept her hope up; within minutes of her becoming conscious (in hospital) she was talking about how incredible he was," explained Wells. "Molly asks about him and talks about how good he was. She is focusing on that aspect and the fact he found her. He truly is heroic."
Wells said following the current round of surgeries, Burton will take between three and six months to recover before doctors perform a second round of surgeries.
"It takes her a few days (after each surgery) for the pain to level off. She needed three surgeries to clean out the wound (on her leg) because the risk of infection was high. The doctors couldn't start reconstruction before making sure the leg was clean of debris."
Wells explained Burton has completed the first phase of reconstruction to her leg, with grafts taken from her left thigh.
"The first 24 hours were absolutely critical. (Doctors) were checking her blood flow constantly. Now it's every few hours; we are hopeful."
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Waking up daily in her room at Victoria General Hospital, Molly Burton has a choice — to focus on what has happened or to choose to look ahead.
"I wake up every day and I have to make a conscious choice to make a positive outlook on what's going to happen," she explained during a phone interview from her hospital bed.
Despite facing a slew of more surgeries, hourly monitoring of blood flow and relearning how to use her muscles, the 24-year-old notes she is drawing inspiration from her family and friends, and in particular, her grandfather.
"I think about him a lot. He was injured in the war and was missing a large portion of his right leg. He lay in a tank tread until he was rescued," she said.
"I come from a family of fighters."
Following a series of bone, skin and muscle grafts to her right leg and arm, Burton admits she "can't really wrap my head" around what lies ahead.
"It hurts a lot. The weight of the cast is incredibly heavy, and everything really depends on if the muscles graft and everything takes. Every two hours the capillaries are checked to make sure the blood is flowing," she added.
"I have to relearn how to bend my arm. I'm only allowed to bend my arm a couple of centimetres in each direction. I haven't seen my leg yet, but there's some brutal scarring."
Although she hasn't directly had a chance to talk with rescuer Brody Fullerton directly, she has sent messages through her family members, who have talked to him.
"We're planning to have a barbecue with both families once I'm back in the Valley."
Burton added the well wishes from friends, family and her support system is "really powerful."
"I am so grateful for the support and encouragement. There is a lot of love."
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Comox Valley RCMP are requesting charges of failing to stop at the scene of an accident and dangerous driving causing bodily harm, both Criminal Code offences.