6-year-old suffers rare bow and arrow injury

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (FOX 2 WJBK)- Six-year-old Jackson is a warrior and a survivor.

He was standing near the driveway of his Virginia Beach home helping his dad with yard work when, out of nowhere, an arrow pierced his left arm.

"When I saw its fins, I had realized it was an arrow," says Jackson's mother, a former Michigander, Ann Arcay.

An 18-year-old neighbor from across the street admitted he fired the shot. With no time to waste, Jackson's parents rushed him to the emergency room.

"Jackson was stoic. He was in a lot of pain, but I told him to breathe through his pain and hold onto his faith," Ann says.

The 28-inch arrow tore through Jackson's tricep and out through his bicep, fracturing his bone.

A pediatric surgeon was able to remove the arrow from Jackson's arm - three hours after the incident.

Ann knows her son was lucky.

"The doctor told us that it was one centimeter from hitting his main arteries, whether it was angled to the left or right, he really only had one centimeter," she says. "If it had hit his main artery he would've lost his hand. If it would've hit him three inches into his body, it would've hit his lung and heart and it could've been fatal."

Despite the devastation, Royal Oak Beaumont's pediatric surgeon Dr. Nathan Novotny says it's a good thing the arrow landed where it did.

"The fact that the arrow came in through his arm and missed major things - so his bone is right nearby, the humerus bone of the upper arm, the brachial artery and there's also a large vein that runs up the front of your arm called the sasalic vein that can bleed a lot," he says. "If it missed the arm and went into his chest, it could have been a much bigger deal. We pay a lot of attention to any sort of penetrating injury to the chest because it can become a very big deal in a short amount of time."

Jackson underwent multiple surgeries. A cast helped heal his bone. He'll also need more time to recover from this kind of trauma.

"Talk as much as the child wants to talk about it, but there are definitely some children that end up getting very, very consumed by arrows, and he'd never, ever want to see an arrow again and if there's an arrow on TV, then I think that's the point where you need to get a professional involved like a psychologist or psychiatrist," Novotny says.

"In a situation like that you go into fight or flight mode, and he was a fighter. He was a fighter throughout the whole thing," Ann says.

Jackson is recovering three months after the incident, and doctors continue to monitor him.

According to Virginia law, the 18-year-old who shot the arrow did not break any state laws. But he will have to pay a $250 fine and is ordered to take a hunting safety course.

Ann, a former Michigan mother, is working to change the state law in Virginia. You can learn more about that here.

Here in Michigan, an incident like this would be considered a misdemeanor which would include jail time.