Arabella Parker opened her eyes Wednesday afternoon and for the past three hours has been breathing on her own while hearing the voice of Sunbury Pastor Mark Gittens.
Arabella was taken off life support at Geisinger Medical Center late Wednesday afternoon. Gittens, pastor of h2church, of Sunbury, was with the 3-year-old since early in the morning Wednesday and said he sat near the child, held her hand and played music just after doctors removed a breathing tube.
"She even opened her eyes," Gittens said Wednesday night prior to hosting a vigil at Cameron Park in Sunbury. "She looked right at me. I sat there and I prayed and spoke with Arabella and all I kept saying to her is 'I'm sorry.'"
Gittens was invited to the hospital by Mandy Kegler, of Sunbury, Arabella's aunt.
Kegler was granted full custody of the child last week by a Northumberland County Judge.
Stonington state troopers said Arabella was beaten so badly by Jahrid Burgess, 19, of Trevorton, last month that she needed part of her brain removed. Parker's mother, Samantha Delcamp, 23, of Trevorton, was also charged with felony endangering the welfare of children after Stonington state Trooper Brian Siebert said Delcamp knew about the abuse and did not stop it.
"We all need to continue to pray," Gittens said.
"We need to continue to come together as a community and we need to let it be known that these types of things will not happen around us. This happened on our watch and we need to make a change."
More than 100 people gathered at the park and prayed with Gittens.
When Gittens announced Arabella was still breathing the crowd began to yell, "Amen."
Kegler said the girl has been breathing on her own for more than three hours and all of her vital signs are remaining the same. Kegler said doctors are monitoring the girl.
Kegler said the girl still has a long way to go and that she is continuing to pray.
Parker's biological parents called the hospital this afternoon, the girl's aunt Sarah Delcamp said. Arabella heard from her father, Karl Parker, from inside the SCI-Coal Township visiting room, and Samantha Delcamp, who placed a call to the hospital room from Snyder County Prison, she said.
Sarah Delcamp said officials connected the call and let each parent speak to Arabella alone.
"I will be going back to the hospital and I will continue to be by Arabella's side," Gittens said at the vigil.
Shawn Dodgson, of Williamsport, said he drove to Sunbury to attend the vigil because he continues to pray for Arabella.
"This is all so terrible and I just wanted to come to pray with people," he said. "I wanted to be here to just show my support for this little girl."