Aurora theater tragedy victims continue to mend
Stephen Barton is slowly recovering after he was shot in an Aurora movie theater on July 20, 2012. (Photo: Facebook)
(CNN) — When a shooter opened fire inside an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater last July, he shattered the lives of countless people – not only the loved ones of the 12 dead, but the 58 wounded who were left to recover physically and emotionally from the massacre.
With Monday’s preliminary hearing for alleged shooter James Holmes, we take a look back at some of the theater-goers who survived and where they are in their recoveries.
Lowak, an aspiring firefighter, was visiting his friend, TV reporter Jessica Ghawi, when he was shot in the buttocks. According to the “San Antonio Express-News,” the bullet traveled to his shoulder, narrowly missing vital organs. Since the shooting, Lowak returned to his home to Texas. He faced a long recovery, but can walk. To help with medical costs, several fundraisers were set up on Lowak’s behalf.
The recent high school grad was hit in her leg with projectiles and shrapnel. Cardona has had trouble sleeping and has suffered bouts of anxiety since the shooting, according to an August article in USA Today. She said she planned to see a counselor and start her college career this fall.
Young was saved by her boyfriend, John Blunk, when he pushed her to the ground and shielded her body. She was injured by shrapnel, but recently told NBC’s “Today” show that she continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. She told “Today” she returned to college in Denver to study biology, but she’ll never forget her boyfriend’s actions. In honor of his military service, she sends care packages to the troops every week.
Barton survived shots to the face and neck. Other than nerve damage, he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Monday, he’s “doing pretty well.” He is working for a group seeking stricter gun regulations, but is not interested in testifying in the upcoming trial. He told O’Brien, “The best thing to do is move forward now and ensure that with strong gun laws, with mental health reform that we don’t have these issues continuing in the future.” Yet another mass shooting has affected Barton’s life. He is from Connecticut, just 10 minutes from the site of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
Caleb was caught in the attack with his high school sweetheart and wife, Katie. While she was unharmed and gave birth to their first child shortly after the attack, Caleb was left in a medically induced coma. According to the latest post on his official Facebook page, he is set to head home later this month – the day before his birthday.
Though Hicks was in the theater next door to where the shooting happened, she was hit by a bullet that took out some teeth and part of her jaw. One of the bullets will stay in her jaw forever. Doctors fear nerve damage if they tried to remove it. During his presidential campaign, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney visited with Hicks in Colorado, noting in his stump speech that she was “doing well.”
Moser was injured in the shooting and suffered a miscarriage from the trauma. In July, her sister reported she will likely suffer paralysis from her injuries and will undergo physical therapy. Moser’s daughter, 6-year-old daughter Veronica, was the youngest casualty of the shooting. The community has rallied around Moser, holding multiple fundraisers to help pay her medical bills.
O’Farrill was hit in the foot and arm. He spent months in rehab but is now back working for a Denver rescue mission. The avid climber says he hopes to climb again this summer. Back in July, he told CNN that he forgives the shooter, and the experience has only deepened his faith in God.
Bonnie Kate Pourciau
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, teen was shot in the leg and had three surgeries. She was last reported by HLN affiliate WAFB to have returned to her hometown to continue treatment. Eric Wilkins, who was also in the theater, was praised for helping Pourciau after the shooting. According to WAFB, the medically trained Wilkins helped treat Pourciau’s leg and get her to the hospital.
The Navy veteran was shot multiple times during the attack. He was last reported in late July as set to be released from the hospital after seven hours of surgery and days in the intensive care unit. He said a jam in the shooter’s gun is what saved his life. “He just gave up. He was done,” Nowlan told KUSA. “If he knew how to fix that gun jam, I know I probably wouldn’t be here.”
The Air Force vet was celebrating her friend Alex “Sully” Sullivan’s 27th birthday the night of the shooting. Sully was one of the 12 killed during the attack. As of mid-August, Blache was reported to be in good condition and undergoing rehab for her injuries.
The 14-year-old high school student was at the movies with his parents when he was struck by a bullet in his side. Though Patria escaped, he returned to help his parents. The entire family, originally from Indonesia, survived the attack. In August, Patria’s father told USA Today his son’s wounds are healing, but the family does not watch TV or discuss the incident.