PORTLAND — Emily Malewicz, the 10-year-old girl who was injured last week when a tree fell on her family’s campsite in Lebanon, was sitting up and talking Tuesday after being taken off a ventilator.

“She is now breathing on her own and able to speak with us,” her mother, Kathleen Malewicz, wrote in an update posted on Facebook and circulated by the Lebanon Rescue Department Tuesday. “The doctors, nurses, and, yes, even Peter and I, really had our doubts whether she would be able to breathe comfortably without the ventilator. She is so determined to get well. In fact, her first words out of her mouth were, ‘I want to go home.’ “

The girl, who lives in Millis, Mass., also wanted to get up, see her friends and read the get-well cards she has received, her mother wrote.

Emily, a quadruplet, has been hospitalized since a large tree fell on her family’s tent at the Flat Rock Bridge Family Resort during a violent storm on the night of Aug. 9. She was pinned under the tree inside her sleeping bag. Her parents, her sister and her two brothers suffered minor injuries.

Surgeons removed a 12-inch-long stick that had pierced her body, less than an inch from her heart, said Jason Cole, assistant chief of the Lebanon Rescue Department.

The girl’s steady recovery is far more than rescuers could have hoped for when they arrived at the campsite, Cole said Tuesday.

“I’ve been doing it for 24 years, and it was definitely the worst scene that I’d” encountered, Cole said. “She was severely injured and she was having a hard time staying conscious. She’s about the same size as my oldest daughter, so it really hits home.”

Cole said Emily’s father, Peter Malewicz, somehow lifted the tree enough so that his daughter could breathe. Other campers then arrived to help get her out from under the tree.

When he arrived, it wasn’t clear if she would survive, Cole said.

“We were doing everything we could for her, also understanding she might not make it,” he said. “We needed a (rescue) helicopter bad, and it was frustrating that the helicopter couldn’t land because of the storm.”

The rescue crew took Emily to nearby Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., to stabilize her by establishing an airway and controlling her bleeding. About 45 minutes later, she was rushed to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where surgeons found the stick that had broken off in her back.

Cole and other members of the rescue department have been visiting daily and helping to raise money for the family. He planned to visit again Tuesday to see the dramatic progress for himself.

“We’ve spoken with her mom. She’s sitting up, and she was actually drinking ginger ale,” Cole said. “It’s quite amazing.”

In her update posted on Facebook, Kathleen Malewicz said her daughter is improving faster than anyone expected.

“She told us this morning, that today was the day she was going to get up and walk around,” Kathleen Malewicz wrote. “I washed and brushed her hair today, put her hair in her infamous ponytail and saw my beautiful little girl as we all know and love her. This time last week I thought that would never happen!”

Kathleen Malewicz thanked all of the people who have been praying for Emily and offering support. People from all over New England have donated more than $2,000 so far to help the family with expenses.

Lebanon’s rescue department has a secure Paypal online payment center at www.lebanonrescue.com. Checks may be mailed to: Lebanon Rescue, c/o Emily Fund – 323 Depot Road, Lebanon 04027.

 

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: [email protected]