Student unable to attend graduation, surprised at hospital with ceremony

High school student Aiden Sturgis had to miss his graduation ceremony after he was injured in...
High school student Aiden Sturgis had to miss his graduation ceremony after he was injured in a go-kart accident.(KY3)
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 9:59 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/Gray News) - A high school student hospitalized after a go-kart accident got surprised with his diploma after missing his graduation ceremony.

A visit from his classmates, a teacher and the principal made Hillcrest High School graduate Aiden Sturgis feel happy he was still able to graduate from the hospital bed.

“I had some friends come up and see me and asked me how I was doing. I didn’t know what they were planning, but I knew they were going to come back,” Sturgis said. “So about 4 p.m. rolls around, I had some family and some friends there, and I hear music playing down the hallway. It sounds like graduation music. All of a sudden, I see five of my friends walk in the room, and they’re all in their cap and gowns.”

Sturgis was supposed to attend graduation at Great Southern Bank Arena Saturday, but an accident happened the Friday prior.

“Me and my friend went to the swap meet, and I bought another go-kart. And we’re working on it to get a bigger motor on it. It was raining and muddy, and I started riding around on it a little bit. I was trying to do doughnuts and stuff,” Sturgis said.

Sturgis said he missed a turn trying to get back to his friend. He says a tree limb was hanging out in the middle of the pathway and hit him in the face.

“I lost control of the go-kart and looked up and about four feet between me and a truck bed. So, I went to grab the steering wheel and stretched my arm out. I smacked the underneath of the truck bed,” he said. “I ended up bending the truck bed and ripping a golf ball size hole in my arm. I looked at it, and it was horrible.”

Sturgis said his friend took his belt off and made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding until first responders could arrive.

“That helped a lot because blood was already stopped, and they just had to put a bandage on it,” Sturgis said.

Once at the hospital, medical staff did X-rays and found he had a compound fracture and broken bones in his arm and forearm. Sturgis had to have emergency surgery Saturday morning but ran out of time to leave the hospital before graduation.

Sturgis’ classmates also brought his science teacher, Adam Bedinghaus, his command sergeant and Hillcrest Principal Dr. Rob Kroll.

“Dr. Kroll said that he was going to present me my diploma right then and there, so I wouldn’t have to worry about going to the school and I wouldn’t miss out on graduation. I was really happy knowing that even though I wasn’t at graduation, I still got my diploma, and I still got my graduation. And to me, that’s all that really mattered,” Sturgis said.

Sturgis’ mom Shawna Davis says she was grateful for the school staff and their northside community for taking care of her kids in times like these.

“Just so many of the members of the staff at the school here, the kids, anytime I’ve needed them for my kids, they’ve always been there. And that means the world to me because we have no family up here. Everyone here has helped me with both of my boys. They have graduated from the school district, and it’s just been wonderful. And I was so happy that they made Aiden feel so loved,” she said.

Bedinghaus says as he was leaving the main graduation ceremony at Missouri State University, he felt a pit in his stomach after hearing what Sturgis had gone through.

“I rushed to the hospital and found Dr. Kroll in his cap and gown in the lobby. And so, we went upstairs to see him. He was surrounded by students and his family. Let’s be honest, graduation is not about the kid. It’s about the parents. I was so horrified that the mom was going to miss the graduation of her son. That broke my heart, and I just really wanted to be there for him,” he said.

Now recovering at home, Sturgis has six weeks before he is able to take off his cast.

After three months, he will be able to have the plates removed from his arm. Sturgis says he has plans to join the military.