Jackson County

She prayed her son, Zander, wouldn’t die. Her prayers were answered.

Zander Saucier, 4, spent last weekend at Ole Miss watching ballgames with his "Unc" Jimmy Spears.
Zander Saucier, 4, spent last weekend at Ole Miss watching ballgames with his "Unc" Jimmy Spears.

One year ago, Zander Saucier was hospitalized with burns, bruises, a brain bleed and other injuries so severe doctors were unable to say whether he would live.

“It’s the worst experience I’ve ever had to go through,” Emily Saucier said of her then-3-year-old son. “It’s emotionally exhausting. It still is. He was on a ventilator. They would not tell me he was going to make it, but I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that made him better in the end. It was the fourth or fifth day that we finally learned doctors thought he was going to make it.”

Zander’s father, Nathan Blake McCrory, 25, is out of jail on a $200,000 bond on four counts of felony child abuse. McCrory’s family disputes the allegations, saying Zander was injured falling down the stairs.

McCrory was taken into custody at his home a short time after deputies responded to the report of suspected child abuse at Singing River Hospital. Zander was airlifted to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile with critical injuries.

Zander was hospitalized for a week.

“For the most part, he’s going great now,” Saucier said this week. “It has affected him tremendously as far as his day-to-day life. He’s still in counseling but I’m happy we’ve made it this past year. I hate that we’ve had to go through this and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but we pick up the pieces and go forward the best way we can.”

‘His poor face’

Saucier didn’t know just how bad her son’s injuries were until she saw him at the emergency room entrance at Singing River Hospital.

Jimmy Spears, whom Zander calls “Unc,” was there, too.

“I remember putting my arm around Emily as they (wheeled) her baby out,” Spears said. “I went from having my arm around her to holding her up. What we saw, no Momma, Meme or Unc should ever have to see or hear. His precious little face (was) so swollen that he was hardly recognizable.

“He’s unconscious,” Spears recalled. “IVs are in. Neck brace on. His poor face. I can’t really see anything else. Eyes swollen shut. His lips were huge. His forehead had a massive bruise from end to end. They began pointing out things. They rolled him over and showed us his back. My heart was breaking.”

Celebrating, with a twist

To celebrate Zander’s year of recovery, his family is planning a party Saturday that will be open to the public.

There will be food and drinks, and a special donation jar Zander designed to help raise money for Sophia Myers, a 7-year-old Ocean Springs first-grader suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.

Sophia’s mother, Angel Myers, had been the prosecutor on Zander’s case until Sophia’s diagnosis in February. Myers had met with Zander and his family after the child was injured.

“Angel has pretty much been Zander’s voice since this happened,” Saucier said. “She brought great relief to us when it was so important. But I know the feelings she is going through as a mother feeling helpless. We wanted to help her. Zander wanted to help Sophia.”

Please pray

Saucier and Spears ask for prayers for Zander and the rest of the family as they await McCrory’s trial on the child abuse charges.

They also are offering special thanks to South Mississippians who rallied around Zander after news spread of the alleged attack and his injuries.

The boy is doing much better, his mother said, and is mostly enjoying life though he still suffers a setback here and there when the bad memories start to creep in.

As for this weekend’s celebration, she said, “I’m excited for everybody to come see us. I think it’s going to be comforting for some people to know he’s doing so well. I’m sure there is going to be some tears shed but it’s going to be tears of joy rather than tears of sadness.”

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

Celebration of Zander Saucier’s return home

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: 13987 John Clark Road, Gulfport