BLOOMINGTON, MN – It was every mother’s worst nightmare. In April 2019, Kari Hoffman witnessed a man throw her 5-year-old son over a third-floor balcony while shopping at a mall. As a result, her son suffered multiple non-life-threatening injuries, including broken arms, legs and skull.
Three-and-a-half years later, after her son made a miraculous recovery, Hoffman decided she was ready to share her story and was the first to talk about the incident on Good Morning America.
“I was frozen in time until I could speak, and now it’s a time in our lives where we’ve done a lot of healing when it’s time to move forward with the story of Landen’s miracle,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman took her son Landen and one of his friends to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. She said they had just finished a parent-teacher conference day and were looking for a way to “celebrate” when a stranger approached them.
“We were just looking at the alligator at the Rainforest Café and a stranger came up and whispered to these two little boys. And I thought he’d turn on that alligator for them,” Hoffman said. “He grabbed it [Landen] and ran. And I just froze… It happened so quickly. I screamed, “No!” after he had already been abandoned.’
“I don’t even remember running down the escalator, but I kept screaming, ‘No, Landen is not going to die,'” she added.
She said the incident quickly drew a crowd. Hoffman asked them only to “pray.”
“I didn’t care who was watching. If they were watching, I asked them to pray,” she said. “He has a heartbeat. He was breathing. We got in the ambulance and before they closed the door, he opened his eyes for a second.”
Hoffman said Landen was rushed to emergency surgery with a traumatic brain injury. Relatives gathered as her son lay on the operating table, and they were all there when the doctor announced that his son was “going to be fine.”
“Hearing his breath with the car beeping was the best sound I’ve ever heard in my life,” Hoffman said. – Because it meant that he is alive.
Landen was in the hospital for four months. Hoffman said she will keep a journal to monitor her son’s recovery. She said he made it just in time to start the first day of kindergarten that year, just five days after being released from the hospital. Despite his triumph, Landen initially struggled with some behavioral issues, but later learned to “follow the rules” again.
In May 2019, 24-year-old Emmanuel Aranda pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the attack. Aranda, who has reportedly been banned from the mall on two other occasions, said he was “looking for someone to kill” when he threw Landen off the balcony.
Hoffman said she forgave Aranda because “it’s a decision you have to make so that God can do what he needs to do in your life … and that was to save Landen.”
Last year, the Hoffmans filed a lawsuit through their attorney, Marc Briol, against the Mall of America, alleging that mall security should have prevented Aranda from entering the building. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages for Landen’s medical expenses.
On Dec. 5, attorneys for the family announced that the lawsuit had been settled confidentially and released a statement saying they were working with the Mall of America to change policies to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.
Good Morning America reached out to the Mall of America for comment on the settlement, and the mall reiterated a joint statement with the family.
“The Mall of America and the family have agreed to work together with a focus on security, and are already jointly implementing changes to existing restrictions on the entry of violent criminals to provide more opportunities to keep such people out of their premises,” the statement said. , partially.
Now Landen is 8 years old. He enjoys playing hockey and is looking forward to his birthday in January, his mother said.
“The angels caught him, there’s no denying it,” she told “GMA.” “Yes, he had injuries and we had to go through all that pain to get to the end. But sometimes God lets us go through things to teach us something.”
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