The white car veered across two lanes of traffic before hitting a tree, its metal frame crumpling on impact. Inside, a little girl was screaming. And when firefighters arrived on the scene of this horrific accident, they found themselves faced with tackling a rescue that was truly unique.
Inside that car had been Georgia mom Summer Ginn and daughter Raelyn. Raelyn had been born in 2014, and at that time Summer and her husband looked forward to life with their healthy baby girl. It wasn’t long, however, before they noticed that something was wrong.
When Raelyn was one year old, in fact, a pediatrician visited the Ginn family for a routine checkup. The couple pointed out that their daughter was having problems responding to her name; they were also concerned that she couldn’t hear properly.
So little Raelyn was sent for an evaluation. And although her hearing proved to be fine, in January 2016 she was actually diagnosed as having autism. Naturally, Summer and her husband were heartbroken.
“Just like that,” Summer wrote on Atlanta parenting blog My Atlanta Moms Club, “our picture-perfect lives we had envisioned quickly became nothing more than a fading illusion that was slipping away between our fingers. We cried. A lot.”
Then reality set in. As a result, oncology nurse Summer left her job to become a full-time, stay-at-home mom. She also took on an active role in online communities, acting as a spokeswoman for autistic children and their struggling families.
Not that Raelyn and her mom were alone, of course, as autism is a condition thought to affect around three and a half million Americans. Its effects vary considerably but can include problems with social interaction, difficulties with coordination and behavior that’s repetitive.
In Raelyn’s case, she sometimes struggles to communicate important information with those around her. However, with the help of various therapies, she and her parents are able to live happy, fulfilling lives.
Furthermore, Raelyn attends the Challenged Child & Friends school in Gainesville, Georgia, where kids with special needs are educated alongside those with regular development. Still, the little girl needs all the help she can get in order to properly converse with others – and it was this difficulty that made what happened to her and her mom in the fall of 2016 all the more terrifying.
On the morning of October 25, 2016, Summer was driving Raelyn to school as usual. But while running behind schedule driving down Highway 211, she lost control of her car. The vehicle swerved across two lanes of vehicles before running off the side of the road. It then collided with a large tree.
And the car had been traveling at around 60 mph when it crashed, meaning that the damage was bad. Summer’s immediate concern, though, was for her daughter sitting in the back seat. “I heard her crying,” she told Atlanta television station WSB-TV the following month, “so I knew she was alive, but that’s all I knew.”
And because of Raelyn’s condition, Summer was even more worried about her daughter, who was two at the time. Specifically she knew that, when the first crews arrived at the scene, Raelyn would struggle to describe any pain she might be feeling.
Summer herself, meanwhile, was badly injured. She had suffered a 2.5-inch wound to her head in the crash, and blood was streaming out of it. Understandably, her memories of the moments following the accident are blurred.
The next thing that she can remember fully, in fact, is paramedics removing her from the wrecked vehicle. Concerned that she may have serious injuries, they placed her on a backboard. However, the only thing Summer could think of was her terrified daughter.
Suddenly, Summer had an idea: she knew just what needed to happen to calm Raelyn down. As a result, she asked the firefighters on the scene what must be one of the oddest requests they’ve ever received.
As Hall County firefighters retrieved her daughter from the wreck, in fact, Summer asked them if they could sing her a tune. In particular, she requested they sing “The Wheels on the Bus” – a song that she knew would instantly calm Raelyn down.
And, touchingly, firefighters Brian Gregory and Caleb Rumbaugh were happy to oblige. Their singing had such an incredibly soothing effect on the little girl, moreover, that Summer thought they’d actually calmed her with medication.
Thankfully, both Summer and Raelyn suffered no long-term damage and both recovered fully. However, that wasn’t quite the end of the story. First, Rumbaugh’s wife Cory wrote to Summer to tell her how affected her husband had been by the experience.
On November 20, 2016, moreover, Summer and Raelyn paid a visit to the local fire station to see Rumbaugh for the first time since the accident. Talking about her daughter, Summer told WSB-TV, “She saw him and instantly recognized him. Her face lit right up.” Rumbaugh, meanwhile, was equally touched.
And, adorably, the firefighter gave little Raelyn a yellow teddy bear with a unique feature: it plays a voice singing “The Wheels on the Bus.” Rumbaugh’s wife has since joked that the whole experience has revealed his true nature to the world. “It’s kinda ruining his tough street cred,” she told WSB-TV. “Now everyone knows he’s a big ole softy.”