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4-year-old who lost leg in lawn mower accident beginning long road to recovery

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SALT LAKE CITY — Jacob and Teri Partida have received "overwhelming" support from family, the community and complete strangers following a tragic accident involving their "bright-eyed" and "sweet" young daughter.

But what has helped them the most since 4-year-old Brailey lost her right leg after it was caught underneath a riding lawn mower, they said, is Brailey's positive attitude.

"Brailey is so tenacious. I mean, she is probably helping us get though this more than anything else. Her temperament, her attitude is just incredible," father Jacob Partida said Tuesday.

"She has her downs, and she is experiencing pain. Her evenings are rough. But she is just the strongest thing I've ever seen. She touches everyone that comes in contact with her," he said, wiping away tears.

On Aug. 1, Brailey was sitting on a riding lawn mower as her grandmother cut the lawn of a neighbor's home in American Fork. She fell off and got her leg caught in the blades.

Brailey's right leg had to be amputated just below the knee.

If not for the quick actions of nearby residents and others who were in the area and heard her screams, the Partidas say Brailey may not have survived.

"Without their quick thinking and action, she may not be here today," said Bob Armendariz, Jacob Partida's brother-in-law. "Wow. We don't know how we could ever thank you enough."

On Tuesday, Armendariz and Brailey's parents spoke publicly for the first time since the tragic accident. Several times they expressed gratitude for the "amazing" support they have received. They especially wanted to thank the first people who ran over to help and applied a tourniquet to Brailey's leg using a belt.

Now that Brailey's condition is no longer life-threatening, Jacob Partida said recovery was just beginning.

"The road to recovery will be long," he said. "Unfortunately, that will continue throughout her growing years. … There will multiple surgeries yet to come."

"We're getting through as best we can," Armendariz said. "She's a beautiful baby; a great young girl. She's really got a tough road ahead of her. We really could use all your prayers and all the continued support the community has been showing.

"It's not something that's going to stop or end next week. It's going to follow her throughout her life. We don't know how many surgeries it's going to be, what else is going to happen as far as rehabilitation. … But the most important thing is we have her," he said.

Although Brailey remains positive, her father says she understands the reality of what has happened.

"Actually, for a 4-year-old, she's incredibly aware. She knows exactly what's happening and just remains positive," Jacob Partida said.

Partida asks about rebuilding her leg every day, he said. As of Tuesday, Partida said there was no estimated time of when she can go home.

Prior to the news conference Tuesday at Primary Children's Hospital, members of the media were asked not to ask for details about what happened or about the grandmother who police say was very distraught following the incident.

When asked if she had advice for other parents about children and riding law mowers, Teri Partida said, "Make sure there's another supervised adult there."

And if not, "the lawn can wait until tomorrow or the next day. Just make sure there's somebody else just watching those little ones because they move so fast," she said.

Brailey's parents both wore ladybug pins on their clothes Tuesday in honor of their daughter. Brailey loves ladybugs so much that her nickname is Brailey Bug. Her hospital room has been decorated in ladybugs, they said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Partidas with their ongoing medical bills.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam