BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The injured mother of a boy killed when a 300-pound flight information board fell at an Alabama airport received a visit Monday from a Catholic bishop, who said the woman's husband was at her hospital bedside following the panel collapse that killed one of their sons and injured other family members.
Bishop Robert Baker of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham said Heather Bresette's husband, Ryan, was holding his wife's hand and talking to her at the hospital.
"In this horrible tragedy, the parents bear the brunt of the burden, and each one in the family is struggling to deal with it. The grief is tremendous," Baker said after visiting her at University Hospital in Birmingham.
The family from Overland Park, Kansas, had taken a weeklong vacation to Destin, Fla., and was preparing to fly home when tragedy struck them Friday at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. A 10-year-old son, Luke, the middle of five children, was killed by the fallen sign that briefly trapped the woman and three of her five children.
Luke's 5-year-old brother Tyler suffered a concussion, and 8-year-old brother Sam had a broken leg and broken nose. The 5-year-old was released from a hospital over the weekend. Sam Bresette remained Monday in good condition at Children's of Alabama, the hospital said.
The bishop said he also met with the 8-year-old, Sam, at Children's of Alabama hospital and gave him a blessing, adding the boy prayed "Jesus would be with him" and also take care of his deceased brother. Baker said he was told the boy was very close to his older brother, Luke, a fifth-grader who died about an hour after the electronic panel fell.
Heather Bresette remained in serious condition Monday at University Hospital. She required weekend surgery to repair two broken ankles and a crushed pelvis.
Her husband and older children Anna and Joe were with the family Friday waiting to catch the flight home, but escaped injury.
On Monday, Sam Bresette was visited by a small group of former University of Alabama football players.
"Sam got a real boost in his spirits when they visited. He was very impressed," the bishop said, adding he and his deceased brother were "really into sports."
Baker said parishioners have begun collecting donations for the family amid an outpouring of support in Birmingham.
"Everyone in our city is saddened that such a tragedy happened in our city. So many people are praying for the family and we want them to know that Birmingham is a kind and good city."
Meanwhile, airport authorities sought more details as to how the flight display board toppled. The panel was newly installed in a public area that led to a renovated airport concourse that opened March 13.
An airport spokeswoman, Toni Herrera-Bast, said the contractor in charge of the recent construction, Brasfield & Gorrie-Bloc Global Services Group of Birmingham, was collecting more information.