Mother of toddler run over by neighbor's SUV talks about tragedy, parents staying vigilant

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 09:57:52-04

"I wish I had it to do all over again," said Danielle McDonald-Culbertson about the moment her 20-month-old daughter, Eliana, wandered off and was run over by a neighbor backing out of their driveway.

"For that one minute, I would have put her in the house. That one minute, I would have strapped her in the car seat in the car."

Danielle and her husband, Emman Culbertson, Eliana's father, remained by their daughter's side Thursday as doctors continued medical tests that they believed would have given them hope. 

Danielle said doctors told them Eliana suffered severe brain damage and, if she pulls through, she'll be unable to walk and on a feeding tube for the rest of her life.   

Wednesday morning, while Danielle was putting air in a tire, Eliana was outside with her and wandered two driveways away where a neighbor, backing out, ran over the toddler with their SUV.

"Right now, my biggest fear is she's going to die because she has bleeding on her brain," said Danielle who also cautioned other busy parents to stay vigilant.

"It only takes a second for something like this to happen," said the tearful mother. "A lot of us think we can multitask, but when you're dealing with children, there is no such thing. Your attention is either on them or not. And if your attention is not on them, tragic things can happen."

Danielle said she doesn't blame her neighbor whose vehicle was missing a driver's side-view mirror before the accident. She said Eliana is small and so easy to miss.

The Culbertson family has started a GoFundMe account that reads as follows:

Eliana is 20 months old. She was recently hit by a car which caused severe brain damage. Little Ellie is on life support and the doctors say she won’t make it because of lack of oxygen and blood flow to her brain.