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Shot in the head - crime victim

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On 07/30/2010 Tommy was a normal, goofy High School kid…. on 7/31/10 that all changed… forever. Tommy had just gotten home from North Carolina where he had spent the summer visiting his brother who had recently returned from a tour in Iraq. He decided to go visit with two boys he knew from school before the end of the summer. Not having a car, and never having been there before, Tommy got directions and headed out on his bike.

Tommy hadn’t been there 10 minutes when he discovered one of the boys had stolen a gun. As he started to turn and face the boy, he realized that the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber gun was pointed at him. The boy holding it, said "Freeze Mother F***r", and pulled the trigger - shooting Tommy in the temple. And the nightmare began.

Tommy never lost consciousness and was screaming "What happened - what just happened?" They gave him a towel to apply pressure as he was bleeding profusely from the wound, nose, and mouth, and told him to remain calm until the police arrived. Tommy had not known the boy who shot him was a convicted felon… having burglarized a business with his mother’s boyfriend. He did not know this boy was on probation and had a “failure to appear” charge for the felony, or that he had outstanding juvenile warrants, and traffic violations. He obviously did not know this boy as well as he thought he did.

The initial entry wound

Tommy was Bay-flighted to Bayfront Medical Center the evening of 7/31/10 and remained in ICU for 4 days. Medical personnel were amazed he had survived. Being medicated, in shock, and healing, he was in and out of consciousness pretty much the whole time. His mom watched the monitors for 12 hour stretches, and breathed a sigh of relief every time he regained consciousness and was blessed with a few lucid statements. When he became stable and out of imminent danger, he was moved to an intermediate neurology floor. Even though he was awake only a few hours out of each 24 - he was released late in the day on 8/5/10.

His family was told his right optic nerve was severed and his ear drum was ruptured. He had multiple facial fractures, as the bullet entered in the right temple, traveled down through his head depositing multiple bullet and bone fragments throughout his head until finally stopping, lodged within 1mm of the carotid artery on the left side of his neck. He also had a blow-out fracture of the sinus, pain in his jaw, and numbness throughout his face, as well as some appearance abnormalities as he is scarred and unable to raise his right eyebrow or fully move his right eye. The many facial bones where shattered in hundreds of pieces that were amazingly mostly in place with the exception of the bones in the direct path of the bullet. No surgeries were done because as they were told - it would be more life threatening to perform surgery that to leave everything alone and hope the bones remained stable and in place while he healed.

On 8/11/10 Tommy got up and instantly complained of extreme pain in his head which was increasing, and he was steadily dripping fluid from his nose. He was taken to Spring Hill Regional ER and after a cat scan they transported him by ambulance back to Bayfront Medical Center. Tommy was diagnosed with a tear in the lining of the brain which was allowing spinal fluid to leak out and air to invade the area around the brain causing pressure and pain. It had to be fixed or he would die. Brain surgery was required to fix the leak, and performed on 8/13/10. He remained in the ICU until 8/16/10 when he was moved to an intermediate ICU and then released late the next day.

The craniotomy

On 9/3/10 he was sent to a retina specialist who discovered that a large portion of the retina in his right eye was detached. Because of the severe damage to the eye and the optic nerve, the doctor felt that surgery to reattach the retina would not benefit Tommy. However he did think it was immediately necessary to do lazer surgery to "weld" the part of the retina that was still attached to prevent it from detaching completely - causing other problems.

On 9/17/10, Tommy felt like his heart was racing. He was taken to Oak Hill Hospital ER and through the tests they did, it was discovered Tommy had multiple pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) located in his lungs. 3 of the 5 lobes were filled with clots. The Doctors were worried that blood thinners would cause bleeding in the brain - but felt he was in more imminent danger from the clots. He was released on 9/25/10. Tommy developed heart issues as a result of the incident.

Since that time Tommy has had issues with inappropriate tachycardia, extreme anxiety, PTSD, and most recently anorexia due to extreme fear. Over the past four years there have been countless doctor, hospital, ER, and therapy visits. CT’s, bloodwork, and specialists have become normal events.

Final destination of the bullet - a lasting reminder

Tommy tried to put it all behind him and was able to graduate High School with his class… with honors. He started courses at PHCC and took a part time job. Panic attacks and ongoing medical issues put an end to both. He can’t be left alone and barely leaves the house.

In the past four years Tommy’s family has paid unbelievable/astronomical amounts of money for their son’s care and recovery. They didn’t complain or hesitate… just accepted it as necessary for Tommy’s care. But they have now reached a point that they have depleted every source of funds they have – 401k’s, savings – everything. Because they keep him on their insurance, they automatically become the “responsible party” – and have to pay the bills. But it goes much farther than just medical bills…. there is the total support of an adult that can’t work, only one parent can work because Tommy needs someone with him every day, and the everyday costs that go on and on. And that is all ON TOP OF regular bills – including mortgage, cars, college costs for his sister, and of course the medical bills.

There was no financial help from the boy who shot Tommy, his family, or their non-existent insurance. Tommy has been repeatedly denied Disability for the past four years. All of the financial burden fell on Tommy’s parents – and they now desperately need help. Tommy was recently released from 5 weeks and his third stay at a hospital to deal with the ravages of anorexia caused by the severe anxiety and PTSD. The cost of this is overwhelming. The emotional toll on the entire family is devastating.

Tommy and his puppy - trying to get better

Four years ago, Tommy went to spend an afternoon playing video games with some school friends. He didn’t know his life would change forever. Sometimes time makes things better…. For Tommy, it has only gotten worse.


Susan Edgren Kidder
Spring Hill, FL

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