Given her mischievous smile, gleeful giggle and big green eyes, you could not guess Pāpāmoa toddler Maia Wilson spent two days in the hospital with a serious head injury this week.
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The 21-month-old girl proved to be too strong and smart for her own good when she pulled a tailgate handle and fell facefirst off the back of her father's ute, smashing her forehead onto the drawbars of a trailer at the Te Puke A & P Lifestyle Show in Paengaroa on Saturday.Despite the freak accident, it looks like she has miraculously escaped any serious injury but her parents Hayley Leslie and Patrick Wilson, owner of BOP Groundspread, are still processing the terrifying ordeal.
"We've got all these what-ifs in our head," Patrick said.
The fall happened about 3pm as Saturday's events were wrapping up.
Her parents believed the back of the ute was the safest place for Maia to watch her dad compete in the Truck and Tractor Pulling Competition event.
But the tot clearly had other ideas. Her parents believe she leant over the back and pulled the tailgate handle.
The couple had two other children, a 5-year-old girl, and 4-year-old boy, and "if she sees the big kids do it, she thinks she can do it," Patrick said.
"We didn't know she knew how to open it."
Hayley was a few feet away when she fell.
"I just ran straight to her to pick her up. She was screaming and I looked her over to make sure there was no blood."
Maia cried for about five minutes then, to her parent's horror, she fell asleep and could not be woken up for about 20 minutes.
St John ambulance and Fire and Emergency New Zealand were initially called before a TECT Rescue Helicopter flew Maia, with her mother, to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition.
Both parents found the lead-up to the helicopter ride the most challenging time of the nightmare.
"That's when it hit me," Patrick said. "I was trying to be strong for Hayley, too. She's already emotional so I didn't want to be emotional as well."
Hayley said: "We were trying to wake her up and [health workers] were saying all these medical terms which I didn't understand."
Maia and Hayley arrived at Waikato Hospital about 5.15pm that night and Patrick drove over the following day.
Maia stayed in the children's surgical ward for two nights where she had tests every three hours.
"At one point they told us they were going to have to put her in an induced coma and ventilator," Hayley said.
Follow-up examinations had come back clear but her parents were keeping a close eye on her to ensure she had no further head knocks.
Patrick thanked all those who helped out, including the Maketū Fire Brigade, Te Puke Brigade, TECT Rescue Helicopter and the local community.
"I know I would've been a bit lost without them."