North Dakota Boy Critically Injured 1 Day After 13th Birthday: 'He's Fighting,' Says Dad

Taren Klein was struck just blocks away from his home by a driver who did not see him crossing the road, according to police

Taren Klein
Taren Klein. Photo: GoFundMe

Shortly after celebrating becoming a teenager, a North Dakota boy was badly injured when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.

"It was a real good birthday," Taren Klein's father, John-Paul Klein, told Valley News Live. "We made a bunch of burgers on the grill and sat around and talked and celebrated."

But the next day, tragedy struck just blocks away from his home in North Fargo, according to the outlet. Shortly before 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the young boy was hit by 21-year-old driver Kyle Joseph Heying, who "did not see the bicycle crossing the roadway," North Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release.

"The juvenile suffered serious injuries and was transported to Sanford Hospital in Fargo. He remains in critical condition," police said, noting that Heying, who has not yet been charged, was uninjured.

An investigation into the crash by the NDHP and the West Fargo Police Department is ongoing.

According to a GoFundMe set up by family on behalf of his parents, Taren "sustained multiple injuries including a broken femur, three fractures in his lower jaw, two fractures in his eye sockets, [a] dislocated toe, road rash and, most crucial, a head injury."

"He has had a surgery to repair his femur and had a section of his skull removed to allow room for the swelling in his brain. Along with those procedures he will endure many more in the coming days/weeks/months," they added in a message on the fundraising page, which has raised over $33,000 as of Thursday morning.

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Taren's father said that he and his wife initially thought their son had gone over to a friend's house on the day of the crash, but notified the police that he was missing around 7 p.m. that night, according to Valley News Live.

"Then I saw the news article about a teenager being hit. I knew he wasn't over at anyone's house at that point," his father told the outlet.

His son still has a long road ahead of him, but John-Paul says Taren is "a tough kid."

"He's fighting," he told the outlet.

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Fortunately, Taren's doctors said his health has continued to improve in the days following the crash, according to the family's GoFundMe.

In a series of updates on Wednesday, John-Paul said that his son had started initiating "some of his own breaths," and that doctors were able to remove the drain from his skull.

"They are discussing having some of his other injuries repaired in the next few days if things continue to go well," he wrote. "They are thinking one at a time, so his body doesn't get overwhelmed."

While doctors hope that the teen will be able to undergo jaw surgery soon, they've decided to push off femur surgery at least until next week, the GoFundMe page explained.

"The orthopedic surgeons have determined they need two to three hours to perform the surgery and it is too soon for Taren to be under anesthetic for that long," his father said.

Taren will continue to need heart appointments "for years due to the trauma," but doctors said "the volume and rhythm have both improved and are starting to work well, showing signs of being able to work on their own," John-Paul wrote on the GoFundMe.

As for his son's vision, John-Paul said "there was nothing to be worried about" and the boy is expected to "heal completely."

Ending the update on a positive note, the boy's father said "the big news is that Taren wiggled his finger, toes on both feet, and his left shoulder for us when we asked him."

"Little blessings like this are showing us that the prayers are helping," he added.

Those interested in donating to Taren's GoFundMe can do so here.

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