ROANOKE, Va. — The bullet that struck Vicki Gardner, the chamber of commerce executive shot during a live news broadcast in Virginia, came within “centimeters” of taking her life, according to her husband.
“The surgeon told me that a couple of centimeters and she wouldn’t be walking and a couple of centimeters more and she wouldn’t be alive,” Tim Gardner told ABC News.
On Saturday, as the offices of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce reopened for the first time since reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot dead, Vicki Gardner was in good condition and showing “amazing strength,” her family said in a statement.
Gardner, the chamber’s executive director, was being interviewed by the WDBJ-TV journalists when she was shot in the back Wednesday, officials said.
Gardner told her husband that the gunman, who has been identified as former WDBJ-TV reporter Vester Flanagan — who used the name Bryce Williams on air — fired at her three times and missed twice, according to the ABC News. She was shot in the back after diving to the ground and curling into a ball.
“I don’t think she ever felt like she was in danger after she got up and walked to the ambulance after being shot, but she didn’t know the extent of her injuries at that point,” Tim Gardner told the network.
Gardner, who has had two surgeries, is recovering at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, hospital president Steve Arner said. Gardner is also a member of the hospital’s board of directors and is “a close friend” of the institution, he said in a statement.
Gardner has been working at the chamber since 2002, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Chamber board chairman Troy Keaton described Gardner as “an exceptional bright light in this community.”
“We are confident she will recover and continue her strong leadership here at SML. She is a bright, energetic, positive, visionary leader who has given so much to this community. We will stand strong with her through this,” Keaton said.
Parker and Ward were killed at Bridgewater Plaza near Moneta.
The gunman fatally shot himself as police confronted him on Interstate 66, officials said.
Flanagan, 41, died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital, Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton told reporters.
As executive director of the chamber, Gardner is a leading figure promoting business development and recreational attractions at the lake community near Roanoke, Virginia.