A Massachusetts teenage girl who was paralyzed after being struck by a stray bullet as a toddler received a surprise at her high school from the EMT who treated her 15 years ago.
Kai Leigh Harriott graduated from Newton Country Day School on Thursday in front of her family, friends and Boston EMS Superintendent Joseph O’Hare, who she saw for the first time since he arrived at the scene when the then-3-year-old was shot, Boston25 reported.
“What a moment between young woman paralyzed by gunfire as a toddler and the @BOSTON_EMS EMT who treated her at scene and carried her to help. That little girl, Kai Leigh Harriott, graduated from HS today and was surprised by the first responder who helped her 15 yrs ago,” Massachusetts State Police tweeted along with a photo of Harriott’s tearful reunion with O’Hare.
Harriott was playing outside her Dorchester home when she was struck by a stray bullet. O’Hare arrived at the scene, carried Harriott to the ambulance and treated her until they went to the hospital.
Harriott, now 17, was paralyzed from the chest down after the shooting, but she refused to have the injury define her life’s path.
“I mean I definitely remember it vividly, but I don’t think about it everyday,” Harriott told Boston25.
Harriott appeared in court when she was 5 years old to testify at her shooter’s trial. She forgave the gunman for the injury that left her wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.
The teen has participated in protests over gun violence after several recent school shootings.
“Coming from communities like this, gun violence is not something most people are affected by, but where I come from and for people who look like me, it is a reality that we face,” Harriott told Boston25. “To be able to speak in front of my school community and let them know it’s a lot closer to home than they think was really important.”
Harriott is expected to attend the University of Arizona in the fall.
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