OCEAN CITY — The resort community’s continuing support for the little girl critically injured in a horrific accident on Coastal Highway will reach a crescendo tomorrow night as hundreds, maybe even thousands, are expected to turn out for a candlelight prayer vigil for Baby Ava at the site where the crash occurred.
On Dec. 16, Ann Marie DelRicco and her 18-month-old daughter Ava were out in Ocean City on a routine errand in the middle of the afternoon when they stopped at a red traffic signal on Coastal Highway at 142nd Street. Shortly after noon, their vehicle was struck from behind by a pick-up truck moving at a high rate of speed and driven by, Andre Kaczynski, 47, of Ocean Pines, who later admitted being under the influence of drugs at the time of the collision.
While Kaczynski walked away from his burning vehicle, the DelRicco’s passenger car was completely crushed and ended up 100 feet from the spot of the collision. Emergency responders worked quickly to extricate the two victims from the wreckage. Baby Ava was flown first to the PRMC trauma center in Salisbury before being flown to the Johns Hopkins Trauma Center in Baltimore where she remains in critical condition.
In the days following the accident, the local community and beyond responded with an outpouring of prayers and support for Ava and the DelRicco family. While the family has asked only for prayers, a benefit fund has been set up for Ava’s continued care and thousands of dollars continued to pour in this week.
In a resort town that prides itself on rallying for causes, Baby Ava’s recovery has become a flash point for the community hoping for a miracle. To that end, a Candlelight Prayer Vigil for Baby Ava has been scheduled for tomorrow night, Saturday, Jan. 7, at 142nd Street and Coastal Highway where the accident occurred. Based on early indications, it appears likely several hundred local residents and perhaps hundreds more from around the Eastern Shore and across Maryland will be in attendance.
The candlelight vigil, organized by local residents Johnny and Krista Brooks, will take place tomorrow evening from 7-8 p.m. and will include prayers, songs and well-wishes for the little girl and her family, who have become a symbol of hope in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Baby Ava continues to take small steps on the road to recovery, and while she is far from out of the woods, it appears there is reason for optimism. Just a week after the accident, Ava had stabilized somewhat and showed signs of improvement and moved her hands and feet for the first time. Last Monday, Ava opened her eyes for the first time and had an MRI the next day, the results of which were inconclusive.
This week, Ava continued to show signs of progress amid a couple more setbacks. On Monday, for example, family members reported Ava had appeared to make significant progress over just a few days earlier.
“She looks a million times better today,” said Ava’s aunt, Lisa DelRicco, on Monday. “Her bruising looks better, and while she is still on a ventilator, she is starting to take some small breaths on her own.”
On Tuesday, Ava had a feeding tube and NG tube inserted to allow her to take in food on her own somewhat. Also on Tuesday, however, it was determined both of the infant’s legs were broken during the crash. However, the gains appear to be outweighing the setbacks this week.
“All worked out well,” said DelRicco of the feeding tube and NG tube insertion. “Her numbers are good and she continues to make us happy by showing us signs of eyes opening, stretching a bit and breathing a little on her own. We will take this for now.”
Meanwhile, the community’s prayers continued this week, along with an outpouring of financial support. For those interested in supporting the cause, PayPal donations can be made to DelRiccoBenefitFund@gmail.com. Donations are also being accepted by any PNC Bank to the Supporting Baby Ava account, or George DelRicco, c/o Ron DelRicco, at 8108 Croom Station Rd., Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Donations can also be made using PayPal through HelpBabyAva@gmail.com.