He wasn't going to live through the night.
When he did, doctors said his leg would likely be amputated. And when it wasn't, medical experts said he would not have any movement in the limb.
But hospitalized for nearly six weeks by a homemade fireworks explosion, Bridger Hunt will leave Primary Children's Medical Center on Friday, wiggling his left foot.
"I've been doing good," a smiling Bridger told reporters Tuesday afternoon from a wheelchair. "I've been getting up to go to the bathroom.... That's kind of weird to say to everybody."
The 12-year-old Orem boy was grievously injured July 24 when a homemade fireworks device exploded, sending shrapnel more than 30 feet through the air and into Bridger as he rode a bike through his grandfather's Lehi neighborhood.
"I just kind of fell off my bike," Bridger recalled. "I didn't even think I got hurt. It was like a smoke blast."
The boy looked over and saw his leg up near his head. He yelled to his cousin to get their grandmother as he lay in the street.
"I really wanted to go to bed," he said, "but this lady just kept talking to me."
Maybe it was luck that kept him alive, his mother has said. Maybe it was that one-sided conversation with a stranger. Maybe it was that piece of Bridger's own intestine that was so accidentally folded over an artery, stemming the blood loss as a family member tried to put pressure on the wound.
The boy was loaded onto a helicopter where he said his eyes closed and his world went black.
"They brought me back to life," Bridger said.
The man who police said made the fireworks that nearly took Bridger's life, 45-year-old Craig Miller, has been charged with felony possession of an explosive device, child abuse and obstruction of justice.
Throughout the ordeal, Bridger's mother, Mindy Carter-Shaw, has asked for leniency for the man. At his first court appearance, she hugged him outside the courtroom.
Though he has never met Miller, Bridger said he is not angry with him.
"I don't feel hatred toward him," Bridger said. "I just feel like he was trying to have fun with fireworks. He's just like me."
Bridger spent weeks in a medically induced coma as doctors performed a number of surgeries to save his life and later his leg. Since being brought out of the coma Aug. 21, Bridger has undergone intense physical therapy to learn simple tasks such as getting up and down stairs.
When the pain sears through his body, he clenches his mother's hand or turns up his music.
"Just something to get my mind off the pain," he said.
Doctors expected Bridger to spend as long as three months in the hospital. The boy's grandmother, Dyanne Richan-Casper, said he will go home Friday partly because doctors cannot do much more for his injured leg at the moment.
It will take six months to a year to tell if the muscles and nerves regenerate and only then will doctors know if Bridger will be able to walk again."The doctors don't like it when I'm overly optimistic," Richan-Casper said. "He's going to walk."
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