Emergency room doctors apologized to the 42-year-old woman who had come in for treatment for staring at her in disbelief. It wasn’t every day — in fact, it was never — that they saw somebody with a large-caliber gunshot wound between the eyes who not only was alive, but wasn’t even unconscious or seriously injured.
Call it Marie’s Miracle. As reported for TODAY by NBC’s Martin Savidge, it happened late last Saturday night, when Marie, who does not want to reveal her last name for fear of retaliation, her boyfriend and her 22-year-old daughter were driving through Tampa on their way home to Riverview, Fla., after a night out.
“We had a nice night out to the movies, got something to eat, were just rolling down the road,” she said.
As they were driving on 50th Street in Tampa, a white Nissan Sentra with two people inside and a gray Nissan Altima carrying four people pulled up alongside the truck in which the trio were driving. When they stopped at a traffic light, the occupants of the two cars started yelling at them, shouting obscenities and gesturing with their hands. Then a man got out of the Sentra and another left the Altima and started yelling at Marie’s boyfriend, who had rolled down his window to find out what the problem was.
The light turned green, the men got back into their cars, and all three vehicles continued on their way. There are three lanes of traffic in each direction on the street, and the two cars got on either side of the truck.
“They were shifting lanes, and trying to box us in and trying to run into the side of the truck,” Marie said. They also continued yelling obscenities, and one man in the Sentra looked at Marie and told her he was going to kill her.
At the next light, the driver of the Sentra attempted to pay off on his promise. Horrified, Marie saw him stand up on the seat and rise through the car’s open sunroof.
“I seen him rise out of the sunroof like in the movies, and he pulled his gun up and turned it and I heard it fire,” she said.
The two cars sped away, and police are still attempting to track down the assailants.
Police investigators would theorize that the man fired three shots from a gun that they believe was a .44-caliber handgun. One of the bullets struck Marie directly between the eyes.
It should have killed her. Instead, the bullet shattered into three pieces against her skull. The fragments ran under her skin, exited through her cheek on one side of her head and near her ear on the other.
At first, she didn’t know she’d been hit. Then she realized blood was pouring from her head.
“I thought I was gonna, was gonna die, but I stayed conscious,” she said.
Her boyfriend pulled into a convenience store parking lot while her daughter called 911. An EMS crew quickly arrived to transport her to Tampa General Hospital, where Dr. Brad Peckler was one of the first to see her.
“I saw her being wheeled in, and was a little surprised that she was just sitting up and talking,” Peckler said.
When she was examined, doctors determined that all she needed was some stitches. When they were done sewing her up, they sent her on her way. She walked out of the hospital.
Said her boyfriend, “I was able to walk her out of the ER and tell her she should buy a lottery ticket.”