A 2-year-old Tennessee girl, Ariel Salaices, was hit by a stray bullet on March 15 while playing with her brothers, ages 12 and 5, in her family’s backyard in northeastern Tennessee.
Ariel fell from the slide and went running to her father. But the bullet was deep and stopped her movement, and before long, she collapsed outside the house.
Her father heard the shot. He ran to his beloved baby girl, scooped her up and rushed her to a nearby emergency room. But they were incapable of handling Ariel’s serious injuries.
From there, the little girl was airlifted roughly 50 miles to the Johnson City Medical Center and then doctors transferred her to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
Doctors hoped she would pull through.
Her aunt, Stephanie Brown, said, “Ariel is a very spunky little girl. She’s sassy and she’s full of life. She’s definitely not one who wants to sit still,” according to ABC News.
Because she was so young, they needed to make sure she didn’t move too much, so they kept her sedated. Before long, they realized that she had experienced a stroke because of the stray bullet.
Days later when she was ready, doctors sent her in for a CT scan. That showed that the bullet had lodged in her brain and required surgery to place a drain on the side of her brain where she still had function. If doctors were going to be able to save her and rescue her from brain death, they needed to operate!
Over the weekend, Ariel’s condition stabilized. This was great news. The treatments were working. Now neurologists needed to monitor her progress to make sure the pressure inside her skull did not build too much.
Meanwhile, the bullet had moved from the back of the brain to the front. But doctors were “happy where she stands,” right now.
Johnson County Sheriff Edward Tester said that the incident offered a lesson about firearm safety.
He said, “If you’re using a firearm and doing target practice or hunting, make sure you’re looking beyond where you’re shooting. Because that bullet may not stop where you want it to.”
Because someone had irresponsibly fired a gun and almost murdered an innocent 2-year-old at play in the yard of her family home, Johnson County investigators want to find that person.
“The person who did this couldn’t have lived that far,” Sheriff Edward Tester told WYCB-TV. “Whether they know they did it or not. I think with all this information out there, I think they know who they are.”
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