HELENA - Shodair Children's Hospital has served the Helena community for over a century. And in all that time, the incident involving teenager Kayla Neal is the first time anything like this has ever happened.
“A death is a death and it's very tragic, but I think if you go back and look at our history, you will not see where there's been another incident like this that has happened,” said Craig Aasved, the CEO of Shodair Children’s Hospital.
Shodair is responsible for 1,800 patients on any given day - but each patient comes with their own history that needs special care and attention. In Kayla's case, Aasved said she was treated at the same level as any other patient in their care.
“Every child that comes through here there's all sorts of red flag behavior that we are trying to address every minute of every day, this patient being no different,” he said.
And with the hospital being in uncharted waters, they’re doing everything they can to keep the other children safe and avoid anything like this ever happening again.
“We will look at every process we have, and review for potential flaws and improve them the best way we can,” said Aasved. “We will do our own internal review and then there will be likely multiple outside internal reviews in which we will fully cooperate with. And then we are meeting with the fire marshal to come up with solutions that we can both can support.”
Kayla's death sent a shockwave through this hospital, and since then they've been working on helping their staff and other patients through this tragedy.
“350 employees that were caregivers for this individual are going through their struggles as well,” said the CEO. “We're providing a whole lot of services like you might imagine [to help with] the trauma to our internal staff and providing the right resources to them.”
In light of Monday’s incident, Shodair is looking at ways to ensure parents that their child is safe in their hands.
“We are here to really take care of their children and, you know, we are not bulletproof. We like to think we do the best job we can. There are just some situations that are outside of our control,” said Aasved.
For now, Shodair Children's Hospital is working closely with the family and is offering counseling to anyone who might need it.
UPDATE Tue 1:41 PM: Prior to the incident, officials with Shodair Children's Hospital said the building's locks opened Monday afternoon after Kayla set off the fire alarm.
Kayla left soon after before she was hit and killed by a pickup on Interstate 15 later that day.
Two other individuals had also escaped with her, according to hospital officials, but are back in the hospital's custody.
Those with Shodair said they are working with investigators, while providing support to staff, patients and their families.
UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Kayla Neal, 15, of Missoula. Authorities say the cause of death is blunt force trauma. The death is still under investigation
UPDATE: A 15 year old girl is dead after being hit by a Dodge pickup truck. Helena Police say the girl walked onto the southbound lane on I-15 headed east, just south of the Capitol Interchange.
Helena Police, Helena Fire, Montana Highway Patrol and St. Peter’s Ambulance responded to the scene. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Dodge, a 56 year old woman from Winston, has not been cited and an investigation continues.
The southbound traffic on I-15 has been restricted to one lane since the accident and will be until the investigation is complete.
HELENA: Montana Department of Transportation is reporting an accident on the southbound lanes of I15 has the driving lane blocked.
The accident was reported at 2:01pm at mm 191.5.
Traffic is getting through on the passing lane and emergency personnel are on scene.
We'll update you as more information becomes available.