Six months ago, Trinity Anderson nearly died.

As the Longmont toddler lay in an induced coma at The Children's Hospital in Aurora, her mother didn't know if the little girl would suffer permanent brain damage or disfiguration.

Rhianna Anderson also didn't know how something seemingly harmless -- the USB cable she used to connect her iPod to her laptop -- could have done so much damage.

When Anderson found her daughter not breathing, her body limp, the girl had one end of the cable, with charred flesh in the prongs, near her mouth, with the other end plugged into the laptop.

Today, in nearly every way, Trinity is a normal, 21-month-old girl.

"Just seeing her get better every day is amazing," Anderson said from her Longmont home.

She sat in the same chair she was sitting in when she wondered why Trinity, who had been playing behind the chair, had fallen silent.

Trinity stopped breathing for several minutes and suffered third-degree burns in her mouth. She spent 30 days in The Children's Hospital, some of it in an induced coma so that she wouldn't move and disturb her breathing tube, which had been placed because her tongue was so swollen it blocked her airway.

Anderson said her daughter lost a lot of her speech and suffered significant damage to her tongue. She needed occupational therapy to regain the motor skills to talk, eat and drink. She may need surgery at some point to make her upper lip more symmetrical, and she has more speech therapy ahead.

Trinity Anderson, 21 months, plays with her mother, Rhianna, and grandmother, Rhonda, in their living room in Longmont last month. Trinity is recovering
Trinity Anderson, 21 months, plays with her mother, Rhianna, and grandmother, Rhonda, in their living room in Longmont last month. Trinity is recovering after putting an iPod cable in her mouth and suffering third-degree burns six months ago. ( K BROUSSALIAN )

But an MRI showed no brain damage, and she has made rapid progress.

The family had an electrical engineer examine the USB cable, the computer and a lamp that were next to the chair behind which Trinity was playing.

The engineer discovered that the floor lamp wasn't wired correctly and was not grounded. However, the USB cable still likely played a role in the accident. Everyone in the family touched the lamp on a regular basis, yet no one got shocked until Trinity came in contact with it while she had the USB cable in her mouth.

A scar on Trinity's shoulder marks the point where the electricity entered her body, the damage to her tongue, lips and palate the point where it exited.

In the days after the accident, when the family publicly discussed their belief that the USB cable, which only carries 5 volts, had caused Trinity's injuries, some critics accused the family of looking to sue iPod manufacturer Apple. The family said their only goal was to warn people of a possible danger in their homes.

Anderson said she does not regret speaking up, as it appears that without the USB cable, Trinity may not have been so seriously injured.

Anderson said she has been more paranoid about household dangers since Trinity's accident, and she struggles with the knowledge that she cannot be everywhere all the time and anticipate every mishap.

"Every parent thinks, 'Oh, that will never happen to me,'" she said. "I'm still making sure everything is out of the way and picked up. I'm much more protective, but I also try to let her do things. As a parent, it's just one of the worst things that can happen."

Anderson said she remained numb during most of the 30 days that Trinity was in the hospital. It was the only way she could function.

Twice, she went home to rest, and she cried the entire way.

It's odd sometimes, she said, to reflect on how normal life seems now.

"She's improved so dramatically," Anderson said. "Seeing her acting like she does, she's the normal toddler that she should be."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.