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Columbine Victim Who Tumbled From Window Leaves Hospital

July 03, 1999|From Associated Press

LITTLETON, Colo. — Nearly ten weeks after the world watched his bullet-bloodied body tumble from a window at Columbine High School, survivor Pat Ireland limped out of the hospital Friday in a new pair of sneakers.

Standing with one crutch, a leg brace and a baseball cap covering evidence of the bullet wounds that nearly took his life, Ireland told reporters he is eager to get on with the healing process at home.

"It's really exciting that I've made it this far, and going home is just the next step," he said. "I'm doing good."

Of those who survived the April 20 school massacre, Ireland was one of the most critically injured. He was shot once in the foot and twice in the head. One bullet grazed his scalp but another lodged in his brain, causing severe trauma that has left him partly paralyzed on his right side.

Ireland escaped from the school by tumbling out of a library window and into the arms of the police, a rescue caught on live television.

Meanwhile Friday, plans were announced to distribute the $3.8-million "Healing Fund." Lump sum payments will be made to the families of wounded students, including Ireland, to help pay for medical costs.

"It's a good start to the rehabilitation process for each one of these kids here, and obviously there's going to be more and more needed all the time," said John Ireland, Pat's father.

Pat Ireland faces months of therapy in addition to the hundreds of hours he has already spent working with physical and speech therapists.

When Ireland began therapy, he had difficulty with movement tasks because of the partial paralysis on his right side. He had to relearn how to eat, dress himself and walk.

Dr. Alan Weintraub described Ireland's recovery as "impressive," though it was expected. "We just don't know" if he'll recover fully, Weintraub added. "It's too early."

Ireland says he intends to join his classmates at Columbine when the school year begins in August.

In all, 25 people were wounded and 13 were killed by two teen gunmen who took their school by storm before turning their guns on themselves.

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