Dominic Szymanski, the 11-year-old Barrington boy who survived being struck by a train in the village March 15, made his first public appearance Monday night as the police officers, paramedics and good Samaritans who came to his aid nearly two months earlier were honored.
"Thank you very much, everyone!" Dominic told the group of well-wishers who gathered outside the meeting room at Barrington village hall, just after the proclamation honoring his rescuers had been read. "Thanks so much, you guys!"
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Dominic was in good spirits but choked up with emotion. He had to put his head down as those who'd rushed to his assistance along the railroad tracks just a couple blocks away lined up to have their photos taken with him, one by one.
The boy's father, Luke Szymanski, consolingly rubbed his son's back while twin siblings Gabrielle and Max, 7, lent their own support by also appearing in some of the photos with their big brother.
Dominic still walks with crutches after having lost his left foot in the accident, but he will be fitted for a prosthetic this Thursday -- largely bringing his long recovery to a close, his mother Gayle Szymanski said.
Though news spread relatively quickly among the public that Dominic had survived his accident at the train crossing that Friday night and was expected to bounce back completely, his family wasn't able to jump over the first terrifying hours and days quite so fast, Gayle Szymanski said.
"I received a call from my ex-husband Luke," she said. "He indicated that Dominic had been struck by a train and he was talking. They believed he had severed a foot. And that was all I knew."
Dominic underwent four surgeries that first weekend and was upgraded to stable condition that Sunday.
Though he left the hospital about three weeks later, the Hough Street School fifth-grader has continued to be tutored at home as his physical therapy has progressed.
Honored for their part in rescuing Dominic by Monday's proclamation were Union Pacific Railroad employees Rich Gladowski and Jamie Hansen; local good Samaritans Lindy Thomas and Trevor James; Barrington police officers Garrett Oberkircher, Jeniffer Whitcher and Lori Allsteadt; and Barrington firefighter/paramedics Jim Goodwin, Chris Kelly, Kyle Racina and Lt. Eric Lee.