Watching his severely burned grandson airlifted from University Hospitals, Iowa City, to Shriners Children’s Texas, was a bittersweet moment Thursday for a Quad-City native.
Troy Lard grew up in the west end of Rock Island, went to Davenport Central and was a letter winner in baseball at the University of Iowa, where he graduated in 1998.
Tomorrow, he will lay his daughter to rest, then fly home to Texas to be with Ky, his 4-year-old grandson.
Lard nearly lost them both on Dec. 23 when a blaze ravaged an apartment complex on the corner of West 42nd and Division Streets in Davenport. Lard, at his Texas home, was working on the fireplaces there when he received the call about his daughter (Marissa Lard) from a fire inspector.
“My baby girl died in an apartment fire and my grandson was severely burned and nearly lost his life as well,” Lard said.
Lard, who owns a consulting company, flew to the Quad Cities to make arrangements for his daughter, Marissa Lard, 31, and to stay with her son, Ky, who was hospitalized in Iowa City until – through an anonymous donor – the Shriners organization arranged to have him airlifted to Galveston, Texas, to be closer to his grandfather.
“He’s going to get the best treatment and care from some of the best specialists in the world,” Lard said. “Galveston is a short trip down the road from where he’s going to be living.”
His grandson, he said, has second- and third-degree burns over 25 percent of his body. He has been heavily sedated most of the time, and now is breathing on his own.
“He knows grandpa’s there.”
Lard had heard about other people who lost belongings in the fire, and wants people to know that what his family lost cannot be replaced.
“Everybody knows that fire did not start in my daughter’s apartment and she’s the one that has lost her life, and my grandson has lost his mom….he’s lost the way he looks,” Lard said. “He has burns on the whole side of his face… those things he can’t get back … My grandson lost things you can never get back.”
Lard thanks all the emergency responders who were at the scene, many of whom have followed up to see how Ky is doing. Lard also has learned that his daughter tried to warn others so they could escape the blaze.
“Some people involved in the fire say she was trying to help people and warn them about the fire,” he said. “She was, to her last breath, trying to help.”
Lard has arranged a memorial service for his daughter at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, 3030 7th Ave., Rock Island, where visitation will be at 11 a.m. and services will be at noon Friday. After that, Lard will fly to Texas to be with Ky.
“Ky’s got several surgeries left to have. He’s got a long road, a long fight,” Lard said. “We have to get him acclimated to his new surroundings.”
Lard says his grandson has strength, and that will help him get through the transitions that lie ahead.
“He’s an energetic, strong little guy,” Lard said. “He’s very strong-willed. He’s fearless.”
As for Lard himself?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t taken the time to examine internally. When I get my kids over the finish line – when I get my daughter to rest and get my grandson where he needs to be – I can start paying some attention to me,” he told Local 4 News. “I understand the repercussions of holding things in. I’ll probably be sitting on somebody’s couch in the next couple of weeks – no doubt.”
Lard plans to create a Facebook page, possibly titled “Ky’s Journey,” so people can follow his grandson’s progress.
“I definitely want him to play sports,” Lard said. “He likes electronic games. Hopefully that takes him in the direction of a techie-type kid.”
Lard will ensure Ky maintains his connection to the Quad-Cities.
“I’ll make sure Ky gets home, from time to time, so he will know where he’s from,” Lard said. “I think that’s very important in the building of a man, is to know his roots and his background. Walk with kings but not lose common touch, is kind of my philosophy.”
To help with Ky’s medical expenses, visit the GoFundMe here.