Girl shot in face with .44mag and lives


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DigMe
August 16, 2004, 12:19 PM
From the local paper:

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/newsfd/auto/feed/news/2004/08/15/1092550067.18121.0475.6478.html


8/15/04 'I don't see how I made it'; Shooting victim survives crime that destroyed her face
By TOMMY WITHERSPOON Tribune-Herald staff writer
Carolyn Thomas knows she shouldn't be alive.

She knows that most people who have suffered the kind of life-altering injuries that she did in December 2003 are not here to tell their stories.

Sometimes she looks in the mirror, still gazing in disbelief at the concave void that once was a beautiful face, and wonders whose reflection she sees and how that person could have survived the brutal crime that claimed her mother's life.

"Doctors told me that they didn't think I was going to make it, and they still tell me they can't believe that I am still here," the 34-year-old Thomas said. "They said that I am a very blessed person, that I am very special. I don't see how I made it, either, but I do know that it was God. He has a plan for me."

Waco police say that on Dec. 6, 2003, Thomas' boyfriend, Terrence Dewaine Kelly, shot Thomas' mother, Janice Reeves, in the stomach; shot Thomas in the face; jumped in a car with his mother and fired a shot near her head; got into a car with his brother and punched him in the face, causing him to crash his car; then stripped off his own clothes and tried to steal a fire truck that responded to the accident.

"All that happened in nine minutes," said Waco police Detective Steve January.

Thomas was shot in the face with a .44-caliber Magnum revolver, a large-caliber pistol that was the weapon of choice for Clint Eastwood's character in the "Dirty Harry" movies and that he described as "the most powerful handgun in the world."

The shot, fired from right to left at a downward angle, ripped away Thomas' right eye, her nose, the roof of her mouth, her upper lip and upper jaw, and lodged in her left shoulder. The bullet literally blew off her face, sparing only her left eye, forehead and chin.

January said the only other gunshot wound that he has seen in his 16 years in law enforcement that compares to Thomas' injuries involved a man who committed suicide using a high-powered rifle.

"I have never seen somebody with such severe trauma to their face and head survive that type of injury," January said. "It was just a miracle she lived."

Thomas was in the hospital for six months and now must closely guard against the infections that can invade her open facial cavities, which she covers with gauze bandages. She has to change the bandages four times a day, and eats liquid nutrient meals through a tube in her stomach. A tracheal tube in her throat helps her breathe and speak.

She still needs extensive reconstructive surgery that could cost from $200,000 to $300,000. She has no way to pay for that and was informed last month that Medicaid would no longer cover her day-to-day medical expenses because her $629 a month Social Security disability payments make her ineligible for Medicaid.

Thomas grew up in Midland and lived with her mother. She rarely saw her father, though he lived in Midland. She developed into quite an athlete, setting the Midland High School record in the 100-meter dash, qualifying for the state track meet in 1988, and also running on the 400-meter relay team.

"I was a fast runner," she said. "I'm a country girl."

She was approached by a few college track coaches, including one for Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, who wanted her to run for their programs.

"At that age, I kind of went boy crazy, and I didn't pursue any of those opportunities," she said.

She moved to Waco in 1990 to be near her grandparents, and her mother followed her here soon after. She and her mother lived together in an apartment in the 1700 block of Dallas Circle, which was close to her grandparents' house.

Thomas has always worked, which makes it harder to accept her injuries and the fact that, even if someone would hire her, she might not be able to keep up with a full-time job in her current condition. She worked at Sears, at the former Plantation Foods, at the former M&M/Mars plant and in home health care.

She was leaving a job interview at a former nursing home on West Waco Drive in October 1992 when Kelly spotted her and stopped his car to say hello. She said she was attracted to him because he acted shy, and they moved in together in an apartment in Lacy-Lakeview after dating for a few months.

Thomas said it didn't take her long to figure out that Kelly was a drug dealer. She said he had no job, but he always had plenty of cash, cars and guns. While Thomas worked to help support herself and her mother and grandparents, Kelly was making a living as a pretty successful drug dealer, she said.

But when things weren't going so well, Thomas said, he frequently took out his frustration by beating her. She said she did not leave him because he threatened her.

"He said he was going to kill me, and I believed him. 'Til death do us part.' That is what he used to tell me. If someone tells you that he is going to kill you, you don't take that lightly."

Thomas and Kelly moved to Fort Worth in the late 1990s. Kelly was arrested for cocaine delivery and sent to prison for eight years. He was paroled in less than four years, but Thomas said she had begun dating another man she met after moving back to Waco.

Kelly was paroled in October 2003 and quickly violated his release conditions by moving back to Waco, where he tried to reunite with Thomas, she said.

On the night she was shot, Kelly came to her apartment and was angry that she had been seeing the other man while he was in prison. To make matters worse, Thomas and police officials say, Kelly had been smoking marijuana laced with formaldehyde, an unpredictable mixture that increases the effect of the drug.

Kelly called his mother to come pick him up and then pulled a gun that he and Thomas began struggling over, she said. Kelly then shot the 49-year-old Reeves, shot Thomas and then ran to get into his mother's car, according to police reports.

Thomas said the next thing she remembers is waking up and hearing her mother ask where the phone was so she could call 9-1-1.

"It was like an out-of-body experience. I remember asking the Lord to forgive me for all my sins and if he sees fit for me to be here, put me back," Thomas said. "That's when I woke up and heard my mother saying, 'Where's the telephone, Carolyn?' It's like I was awake but not awake."

Her mother stumbled out of the apartment to find help, but died at the bottom of the stairs. When Waco police arrived, they were stunned at the carnage, thinking they were working a double murder.

"I guess they thought I was dead because I was lying on the floor on my face," she said. "I was conscious that the police were there and I remember reaching out and grabbing one of them by the leg and telling him to help me."

January said the officers in the apartment, particularly the one who was grabbed by Thomas, were not prepared for her to "come back to life."

"It really affected those cops," January said. "They took the one officer out of service for the rest of the night. It really shook him up bad."

Once Kelly got into the car with his mother, he fired a shot close to her head that lodged in the roof of the car. His mother told the Tribune-Herald the next day that he did not intend to hurt her. He was arrested after trying to drive a firetruck away from the scene of a car crash that occurred after he punched his brother, police said.

Kelly is still on parole but remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bond and on an allegation he violate his parole. He is set to go to trial Oct. 25 in the shooting death of Thomas' mother and for attempted murder in her case.

His court-appointed attorney, former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston, has filed a notice that he intends to pursue an insanity defense in Kelly's case.

"At this point, that is his desire to pursue that defense," Johnston said. "Obviously, it is an extremely tragic set of facts."

Thomas said she is prepared to testify at Kelly's trial.

"I'm looking forward to it. I want to make sure that he gets justice. I'm not really that concerned about myself, but he took my mother away. That was my everything. She was innocent. She had nothing to do with it, nothing, and for that reason, I want to see him pay," she said.

In the meantime, Thomas has made a valuable ally in Jennifer Lundquist, victim services coordinator at the Waco Police Department. Lundquist has been able to get Thomas approved for up to $50,000 from the Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund to cover the cost of remaining medical bills.

And Lundquist is leading the charge to get Thomas' Medicaid eligibility restored and to try to find donors or a foundation willing to help pay for Thomas' reconstructive surgery.

She has contacted foundations that specialize in surgery for crime victims, and Lundquist has even written to Oprah Winfrey to see if she could help.

"I just think that Carolyn is one of the most incredible people I have ever met," Lundquist said. "She deserves help. She has been an inspiration to me and so many other people. When I think I am having a bad day, I think of her and say, 'Wow, look at her. She has come so far after going through so much.' She told me once that God has a plan for her, and I truly believe that."

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horge
August 16, 2004, 12:48 PM
God bless all survivors of criminal violence.

Hopefully those with means can step forward and help them
in geting back to normalcy.

There are just too many victims, unarmed and helpless
against aggressive, hurtful lawlessness.

mete
August 16, 2004, 12:51 PM
"didn't take long to figure out he was a drug dealer " "took out his frustration by beating her" and she's surprized at the result ???

Stand_Watie
August 16, 2004, 12:52 PM
Amazing.

A friend told me he knew of a man who shot himself twice in the face at different times with a large caliber pistol and failed in his suicide bid in both instances. Once it was under the chin, and once in the temple.

.45&TKD
August 16, 2004, 12:58 PM
Isn't the parole system great?

Mikul
August 16, 2004, 01:07 PM
It sounds like most of the damage was from muzzle blast.

It's still amazing that she survived.

Ala Dan
August 16, 2004, 01:33 PM
May GOD bless Carolyn during the trials and tribulations of her pain
and agony. May Kelly die in the Huntsville, Texas death chamber
then rot in HELL.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

Kharn
August 16, 2004, 02:53 PM
Talk about lucky, hopefully someone will be able to get her medicial expenses taken care of.

Was anyone else confused by the names? It took me a while to figure out Thomas was the girl and Kelly was the scumbag.

Kharn

Black Majik
August 16, 2004, 04:59 PM
wow... what a shocking recovery.

Her bf is the scum of the earth that requires a few decades of torturing. :fire:

Ginger
August 16, 2004, 05:12 PM
Wow! I'm certainly glad she's alive and I hope she can get the reconstructive surgery she needs but.....

....why did she get with him in the first place!

As a woman, this has always baffled me. It's not like this is 1950 and no one ever mentions domestic violence. Women do know that bad men exist. So why do they keep picking such bad men?

:banghead:

Standing Wolf
August 16, 2004, 08:58 PM
Kelly was arrested for cocaine delivery and sent to prison for eight years. He was paroled in less than four years...

There's that magic word again: parole.

Women do know that bad men exist. So why do they keep picking such bad men?

Probably for the same reason drunks continue to drink and drug addicts continue to take drugs.

444
August 16, 2004, 09:06 PM
That is a real shame. My heart goes out to her. I am not so sure I would WANT to live if that happened to me. She is obviously a very strong person.



Now the self serving RANT.
I have read many similar articles where someone was a victim of some horrible trauma or disease. Their survival is credited to a miracle, or to the tens of thousands of dollars of state of the art hospital treatment they got. One thing I NEVER see mentioned are the paramedics that I am sure quite litterally saved her life. She would have never gotten to the hospital alive if someone on the scene hadn't intubated her, slammed a couple large bore IVs into her etc. He or she gets no mention at all. EVER. They are happy to interview a cop that had probably had very little, if anything to do with her survival however. Why ? Because he was still standing on-scene while the paramedics were hauling balls down the road keeping her alive.
The path of the bullet might have been a miracle, but after that, it was all skill.

Dorian
August 16, 2004, 10:25 PM
Medicaid would no longer cover her day-to-day medical expenses because her $629 a month Social Security disability payments make her ineligible for Medicaid.


:fire: :barf:

aguyindallas
August 17, 2004, 09:27 AM
I am amazed she lived.

With that said, why am I not surprised that this happened in Waco? banghead:









Just kidding guys...:neener: :

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