Sara Israelsen-Hartley
Bridger Hunt, center, and his mom Mindy Carter-Shaw prepare to leave Primary Children's Medical Center Friday.

As 12-year-old Bridger Hunt left Primary Children's Medical Center Friday afternoon, he knew exactly what he wanted.

"We're going to Taco Bell," he said. "I'm going to get a Mexican pizza."

Fast food, plus his mom's spaghetti carbonara, were definitely not on the menu for the past month and a half as Bridger recovered from being nearly severed by an exploding homemade firework on July 24.

"I think I need to go home," Bridger said, slightly wincing from the pain as he was wheeled out of the hospital by his mom and step-dad.

"He's a little ornery," said his mom, Mindy Carter-Shaw. "It's a lot of pain to get up and out of the chair, very painful for him."

But that pain will almost be more bearable now that he's not stuck in a hospital room.

"I feel like I'm not breathing hospital air no more," Bridger said matter-of-factly, when asked how he felt about leaving.

He left with a visible scar on his chin, but jeans hid any visible damage to his left leg.

Doctors thought he might lose the leg after the metal shrapnel from the homemade fountain in Lehi severed arteries, shattered bones and shredded soft tissue.

There were numerous surgeries, breathing tubes, infections and days of worry about whether Bridger would even survive long enough to worry about his mangled leg.

But Bridger left the operating room and the hospital with both legs and has kept fighting.

"I'm leaving with my son today," Carter-Shaw said. "So many people (don't). I'm feeling so blessed, so lucky. I'm super scared, but really excited for him."

Bridger's got big plans now that he's not stuck in a hospital room. He'll be taking acting lessons soon and hopes to go back to school in Orem by Oct. 6.

"I've always wanted to be an actor," he said. "It's just fun to do stuff (like) I did in my school plays."

And this weekend, he'll be hanging out at the Dew Tour to watch the skateboarders. His dream was to be a professional skateboarder, but that dream is on hold temporarily.

First, he must learn to walk again.

To expedite that process, doctors have sent him home with a routine that will keep him busy nearly every hour of the day. There's leg exercises, walking practice, stretching, particular diets and special bathing procedures, Carter Shaw said.

He'll be recovering for a while at his grandma's house in Pleasant Grove until his Orem home can be "Bridgerized," his grandmother, Dyanne Richan-Casper said. The Orem home has a split-level entry not manageable by a wheelchair.

"It's pretty awesome," said his young uncle, McKay Stevens, 11, who came to see Bridger leave the hospital. "I'm so glad he's out of the hospital."

McKay and his twin brother, Connor, will get plenty of time to "chill" with Bridger while he lives in their basement for the next month or so.

Bridger bit back tears as his step dad, Travis Shaw, helped lift him into Richan-Casper's black Mercedes for the ride home.

It's been a long road. He knows it will still be a long road.

But at least he's still got two legs to tackle it.

How to help

• Visit

• Participate in the 5K Board, Bike and Run on Sept. 27 with all proceedings going to Bridger. There will be a catered breakfast for all participants and food available to purchase for attendees.

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