After four months in the hospital, the eight-year-old girl who was rescued from the Erie Canal in August headed home to Florida.
Selah Clanton's recovery has been a team effort within this community from the very beginning; from the U of R students who helped in the rescue, to the team of doctors that have worked toward her recovery. The family said goodbye to the Ronald McDonald House and the community who rallied behind them for the past few months.
In a split second, the Clanton family's visit to Rochester took a tragic turn.
"We've felt a big hug from Rochester through this tragedy and through these tears. We have not had to walk the pathway alone and we are so very thankful," said John Clanton.
The Clantons have four disabled children. They visit Rochester every year for their son's eye treatments.
In August, John Clanton was taking two of his children for a walk when the double stroller rolled into the Erie Canal. Sam made a full recovery, but eight-year-old Selah remained in guarded condition.
But on Tuesday, after months of rehabilitation, Selah was flown by medical flight to a hospital in Jacksonville.
"Probably the best birthday present I could get today is that my daughter went home on my birthday after 18 weeks in the hospital,” Clanton said.
Doctors say Selah's progress was a surprise.
"She is able to communicate to us and is tolerating therapy very well, able to sit up in her chair, all of which is very remarkable for someone who has been through what she's been through," said Dr. Barbara Asselin, pediatric specialist.
The Clantons believe the fish oil study Selah has undergone at Strong has led to her improvement. It has already worked in six cases nationwide and Asselin says they are considering moving forward with more studies.
"I've had some conversations with the scientists and they are eager and anxious that this could be brought to clinical care,” Asselin said.
"To have a near drowning and almost lose your children and have fish that live in the water be part of the healing is kind of ironic," Clanton said.
It's been a long road for Selah. The developmentally disabled child was adopted by the Clanton family. Selah spent four years in an adult mental hospital in Ukraine, spending most days restrained to a bed.
"She's a fighter and so she's gonna fight this.We hope by the time she comes back she's really going to surprise everyone," said Yvonne Clanton.
The rest of the Clanton family is currently driving down to Jacksonville to meet Selah at the hospital, where she will continue treatment.