It has been a week since the accident in which 2-year-old Christopher Hornberger apparently hit a gearshift that sent the family car rolling over his mother, and the toddler still cries loudly every time his father leaves the house.
"All he knows is that his mom is not there," said family friend Steve Wendel.
Penny Hornberger's week in the intensive care unit of Fairfax Hospital has left the youngster fearful that his father also may not return to the house each time he walks out the door, according to Wendel.
Wendel said Christopher cries whenever his father, John Hornberger, a D.C. police officer, leaves for work or for the hospital to visit his wife.
The 27-year-old Springfield woman suffered severe injuries, including back and hip fractures, four fractured ribs, a bruised heart and lungs and serious burns on her legs and back, according to Wendel.
"She's in a lot of pain during the day," he said.
"She's in pretty bad shape," said hospital spokesman Lon Walls. While Hornberger's condition has been upgraded from critical to serious, Walls said she remains in the intensive care unit because of the extent of her injuries.
Fairfax County police believe Hornberger left her son in the front seat of the car while she went inside her home at 5954 Atteentee Rd. The 2-year-old apparently struck the automatic gearshift lever and shifted the car into "drive" as she walked in front of the station wagon on the sloping driveway, police said.
Hornberger was taking the pajama-clad tot to her mother's house where she routinely left him on her way to work.
Police said they do not know how long Hornberger was pinned under the Oldsmobile station wagon before a neighbor spotted her, but Wendel said she usually left for her secretarial job in Maryland about 7:30 a.m. She was flown to the hospital about 8:30 a.m., after six fire and rescue workers lifted the car off her, a fire department spokeswoman said.