It’s hard to imagine the moment Vicki Gardner lived through. Gunfire exploding all around you, lying in the fetal position, pretending to be dead. Wondering if a crazed gunman is going to shoot you in the head.
That’s what Vicki went through the day she gave an interview to a Virginia TV station, WDBJ. She was talking to reporter Allison Parker last month, standing on a deck, while cameraman Adam Ward filmed.
Her attention was on the camera, but Gardner — in an interview with Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night — said something caught her eye, moving down a walkway, CBS News reported.
“I just saw movement and then gunfire. Lots and lots of gunfire. From that point it was very chaotic.”
Parker and Ward were killed, shot in the head and body by Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled ex-employee of the station. The violence unfolded on live TV.
Gardner remembers hitting the deck on instinct. She curled up in a ball and waited. Flanagan was silent.
“I realized it was quiet and everybody was down. And I didn’t know where (Flanagan) was. I felt as though the next shot — I knew — the next shot he was just going to shoot me in the head because that was what he was doing.”
But he didn’t shoot Gardner in the head. Instead, he came back to where she was lying and shot her in the back. Vicki‘s next thoughts, according to NBC News, were about her injuries — how much she was bleeding, whether the bullet hit her spine and she’d be paralyzed. Death wasn’t far from her mind, either.
“It goes real quick,” Gardner said. “Your world goes in front of you, and it did, real fast, and I said, ‘I’m ready.’ “
But it wasn’t the end of the road for her. On that deadly and horrifying day, Vicki was the only one to emerge alive. Five hours after he killed Allison and Adam, the shooter turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
Gardner was released from the hospital earlier this month. The bullet didn’t hit her spine, as she’d feared, but it did serious damage. A kidney and part of Vicki’s colon had to be removed.
Meanwhile, Allison’s fiancé and WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst returned to his job Monday, wearing a tie that Parker had given to him. He said that all people can do in the wake of her death is “profess love, not hate.”
Vicki Gardner plans to make the most of her life as she wonders why she was spared, and two young people were gunned down. Those plans include a tribute to the pair.
“Why save me and take them… But obviously there’s a purpose — and by golly I will fulfill it.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]