For 90 minutes, a 3-year-old's dream came true.
Stephen M. Pritchard Jr. got to Disney World's shimmering Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. By noon, the boy with a congenital heart defect died in his father's arms.He had undergone five operations, and his parents knew the defect would take Stephen's life at some point. But they said they wanted the sandy-haired boy to see Disney World and the characters that so often made him laugh at home here.
"In a way I'm glad that it happened now, because he was happy at Disney World," said his mother, Lisa Pritchard.
With the help of Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World, the non-profit groups that paid for the trip, the Pritchards went to Disney World. They posed for pictures with Jungle Book characters and caught a glimpse of Mickey Mouse, Stephen's favorite.
The Pritchards said they wanted to photograph Stephen with Mickey, but the line was long and they stopped at a magic shop first. Stephen was lying in a stroller. As his father looked down, he saw his son pitch forward, the Pritchards said.
Pritchard quickly pushed the stroller outside the shop to his wife. Lisa Pritchard lifted her child into her arms and found that he was not breathing, the Pritchards said.
Pritchard took his son back while yelling for oxygen, and then, he said, Stephen "just closed his eyes and kind of told me in a way that he was going to go."