Warm welcome home for Highlands Co boy stabbed for talking in his sleep

A father whose 11-year-old son was stabbed in his home for talking in his sleep said the boy is doing well but has a long recovery ahead of him.

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. -- You can imagine the calming powers and sense of security deputies and firefighters can provide a child after suffering through a traumatic experience. 

Deputies say Colton Driggers, 24, was temporarily staying at the 11-year-old boy’s mom. He and the boy were sleeping on the coach when investigators say Driggers snapped on the child for talking in his sleep keeping him awake. 

Driggers is accused of beating and stabbing the child, Zachariah, several times.

 “He’s just a kid. He’s a good kid. This was never supposed to happen to him. As a parent, you never think something of this sort is going to happen,” said Ryan Ward, Zachariah’s dad.

On Wednesday, Zachariah was released from the hospital. He was a little nervous to go home, so the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and the West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department stepped in to make him feel more at ease. 

The greeting, was a surprise for Zachariah and his dad who brought him to his house from the hospital.

“It was more than I could have ever imagined. “When I saw the smile on his face, which was the first smile I saw on his face in probably three days, it was worth it all,” Ward said.

Deputies lined up to greet the 5th grader, each of them shook his hand. He was even saluted with an award to honor his bravery.

The surprise was also emotional for paramedic Jennifer Bidlack who held Zachariah’s hand in the ambulance to Tampa.

She later visited him in the hospital.

“He definitely remembered me. I wanted to cry then. It was very touching. I have two kids his age. So, it definitely touches you in a special way. Even people without kids, its children and you don’t expect to see anything like that,” she said.

Dad says he’s recovering quickly. “They told me to plan on being at the hospital for two weeks and we were only at the hospital a week and a day.”

 But the images and emotions are hard to erase and will take time to heal. 

“He’s got a long road ahead of him, but I don’t have a doubt in my mind that it’s not going to be okay. It’s just going to be tough,” Ward said. 

Driggers is in the Highland County jail charged with attempted first-degree murder and other charges.

Meantime, Zachariah’s family has created a Go Fund Me Page to help pay for his medical expenses and therapy.

 Link to Go fund me page: https://www.gofundme.com/zachariah-road-to-recovery

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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