Jared Clark had taken every necessary precaution to keep his kids safe while he renovated the family home. As he worked on the roof at the front of the house, he could see his daughters playing out back. But he hadn’t counted on a piece of flakeboard falling out of his hands, and the scream he heard as it hit the ground was the last thing he wanted to hear.
In 2013 Jared and his wife Sarah seemed to have it all. With three growing children, the couple decided to improve and remodel their home. But with plans in place and much to look forward to, their fortunes then hit a downward spiral that would last for five years.
Things started to go wrong once work on the house got underway. The Clarks were shocked to discover that the building was riddled with mold and asbestos. And when the couple subsequently learned that their home insurer wouldn’t pay out for the nasty stuff’s removal, they were forced into bankruptcy. So, with no home of their own and no money in the bank, the family of six were forced to live with family and friends.
Sadly, things didn’t really improve, and a year and a half later Jared and his family went to stay with his parents. It was a drastic move, but one Jared felt was necessary for the family to get back on an even financial keel. That arrangement took a downturn ten months later, however, when the father-of-four lost his job as a telecommunications analyst.
With no idea of what to do next, then, Jared needed to hatch a plan. His former company had given him a severance package, so Jared had a little breathing space while he worked out his next move. Needing stability in his life – and for his family – the germ of an idea emerged.
While Jared looked for work, he would start building a new home for his family right there on his parents’ 1.5-acre plot in Athens, Alabama. What’s more, he’d make it small so that he could move it when the family found some land of their own. It’d be compact, then, but at least it would be theirs.
It was no easy task, building a house from the ground up, but Jared at least had an eager assistant. His daughter, ten-year-old Chloe, was keen as beans around the construction site. Indeed, Jared would often have to call time and force her to go to bed.
As Jared described on the family’s website, Pray For Chloe, “Chloe would mix cement, help lift walls, hold the tape measure and take all the trips to Lowe’s she could. If I was working, Chloe wanted to be helping. At night, I’d have to make her go inside because she simply wouldn’t stop.”
Although his kids spent time on the construction site, they all knew to keep a safe distance from where Jared was working. Nevertheless, the doting father took every precaution while his kids were around and kept an eye on them as he worked. You can never be too careful, after all.
But on January 11, 2018, the unthinkable happened. As Jared worked on the front of the roof, he lost his grip on a piece of oriented strand board or OSB. Severely hampered by his safety harness, his options were limited. In fact, the only one available was to let go of the board. So that’s what he did.
Certain that his daughters were playing at the back of the construction site, Jared watched as the 48-pound piece of OSB slipped from his grasp. Gravity took over and the board hurtled towards the ground, breaking through a safety barrier he’d erected. But then Jared heard a terrifying scream followed by the words, “Chloe got hit! Chloe got hit!”
Panicking, Jared hurried down from the roof to tend to Chloe, who was conscious but bleeding profusely from where the board had struck the bridge of her nose. Ripping off his shirt, Jared made a compress to try to stem the bleeding before rushing the ten-year-old to hospital.
Mercifully, Chloe’s injuries weren’t as bad as first feared. Doctors said she would need reconstructive surgery to her nose, but otherwise she was well enough to go home on the evening of January 12, 2018. But soon things took a turn for the worse.
Still in the hospital, Chloe woke up from a nap screaming the place down. Clearly distressed, the young girl started flinging her hands behind her head. The change in his daughter, as Jared described it, was seemingly instant.
“Just seconds before she was just laying in bed, then screaming that the pain was a ‘10’,” Jared told People in January 2018. “She started thrashing around violently, then she was out cold.” Less than two hours later, Chloe seemed lifeless and unresponsive.
Shockingly, doctors discovered that Chloe had developed meningitis. It seems that when the piece of flakeboard hit Chloe’s nose, fragments of bone had pierced the membrane protecting her brain. And bacteria from her sinuses had then oozed through the puncture wound and into her brain.
Doctors grew increasingly worried about the swelling on Chloe’s brain. “They thought they were losing her,” Jared recalled to Today in January 2018. “Her brain pressure was spiking such that if she did make it they were saying she might have extensive brain damage.”
Medics subsequently put Chloe on a ventilator as they worked to stabilize her. And their good work soon bore fruit: a day later, Chloe was able to squeeze her dad’s hand on command and was soon able to breathe on her own. Within a week she was fully awake and could answer questions without any problems.
Then, once Chloe had undergone reconstructive surgery to her nose, she was allowed home. Happily, doctors say there’s been no lasting damage, and she’ll not need to return to the hospital. Meanwhile, Jared plans to knock down what he started of the family’s temporary home until Chloe has fully recovered.
Life for the Clarks has clearly been a huge struggle of late. “It has been leaps and bounds every day,” Jared told People, adding that doctors were impressed with his daughter’s recovery. And the family is, too. “We’re just in awe and thank God,” Jared said. “Just the fact that she’s here and she’s still herself.”