It was every mother’s worst nightmare come true. Kari Hoffmann was shopping at a mall in April 2019 when she witnessed a man throw her 5-year-old son over a third-floor balcony. Her son suffered multiple life-threatening injuries as a result, including broken arms, a broken leg, and skull fractures.
After her son made a miraculous recovery three and a half years later, Hoffmann decided she was ready to share her story and spoke first to “Good Morning America” about the incident.
“I was frozen in time until I was able to speak, and now is the time that is right in our lives where we’ve done a lotta healing, where it’s time to move forward with the story of the miracle of Landen,” Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann had taken her son Landen and one of his friends to Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America. She explained that they had just finished a parent-teacher conference day and were looking for a way to “celebrate” when they were approached by a stranger.
“We were just looking at the alligator at the Rainforest Café when a stranger approached and began whispering to these two little boys. And I assumed he was going to turn this alligator on for them” Hoffmann stated. “He grabbed [Landen] and bolted. And I was completely frozen… It happened so quickly. ‘No!’ I screamed after he’d already been thrown.”
“I don’t even remember running down the escalators, but I was screaming the whole time, ‘No, Landen’s not gonna die,’ ” she added.
According to her, the incident quickly drew a crowd. All Hoffmann asked was that they “pray.”
“I didn’t care who was watching. I asked them to pray if they were looking” She stated. “He has a heartbeat. He was still breathing. We got into the ambulance, and he opened his eyes for a split second before they closed the door.”
Landen, according to Hoffmann, was rushed into emergency brain trauma surgery. While her son was on the operating table, relatives gathered, and they were all present when a doctor announced that her son was “going to be OK.”
“Listening to him breathing with the machine’s beeping was the best sound I’ve ever heard in my life,” Hoffmann said. “Because that meant he was alive.”
Landen was hospitalized for four months. Hoffmann stated that she would keep a journal to track her son’s recovery. He arrived just in time for the first day of kindergarten that year, she said, only five days after being released from the hospital. Despite his victory, Landen struggled with some behavioral issues at first, but has since relearned “to follow the rules.”
Emmanuel Aranda, 24, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in May 2019 and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Aranda, who was previously barred from the mall, claimed he was “looking for someone to kill” when he threw Landen from the balcony.
Hoffmann stated that she has forgiven Aranda because “it’s a decision that you have to make so that God can do what he needs to do in your life … and that was to save Landen.”
Last year, the Hoffmanns filed a lawsuit against the Mall of America through their attorney Mark Briol, claiming that mall security should have prevented Aranda from entering the building. The lawsuit sought unspecified monetary compensation for Landen’s medical expenses.
On December 5, the family’s attorneys announced that the lawsuit had been settled confidentially and issued a statement saying they were working with Mall of America on policy changes to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
When “Good Morning America” inquired about the settlement, the Mall of America reiterated its joint statement with the family.
“Mall of America and the family have agreed to work together with a focus on safety, and already are jointly pursuing policy changes to existing trespass limits for violent criminals so as to give greater ability to preclude such persons from their premises,” according to the statement.
Landen is now eight years old. His mother said he enjoys playing hockey and is looking forward to his birthday in January.
“Angels caught him, there’s no denying it,” she told “GMA.” “Yes, he had injuries, and we had to endure all of this agony to reach the end. However, God sometimes allows us to go through things in order to teach us something.”
Leave a Reply