(CNS Local Life): Samantha Grady, a 17-year-old survivor of the now infamous Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, visited the Cayman Islands recently to speak with local church and youth groups. Grady was injured during the school massacre in February where 14 students and three staff were shot and killed and 17 others, including Grady, wounded. Since then, the teenage survivors have become the new face of gun control in the US.
However, Grady visited Cayman with just her parents at the invitation of Pastor Shion O’Connor from the Seventh-day Adventist Church who knows the family well. She was the keynote speaker at the Savannah Adventist Church on 6 July and at the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac where the high school junior sang and played the viola as well as recounted the events of what her father said was the worst day of his life.
“When I heard of the tragedy and that Samantha was one of the victims I visited her at her home in Coral Springs,” Pastor O’Connor said. “Having learned of her incredible survival story, I felt compelled to have it shared with the youth of these Islands, many of whom are currently in colleges and universities abroad or leaving shortly to be enrolled.”
Grady told the audience that one bullet grazed her back and another ricocheted, hitting her in her chest. At the hospital, the chest wound was stapled but fragments of the ricocheting shot remain in her chest. Meanwhile, her best friend, crouching close to Grady, was fatally shot, along with another of her classmates with her at the time of the tragic event.
Despite the terror and the tension she experienced, Grady said she was able to reach out to the other nine students sheltering from the terror playing out on the outside, encouraging them to be calm and to be quiet. At one point during a lull in the gunfire, she was able to check the pulse of one of the students in her classroom, she said, further confirming her desire to be a doctor one day. Grady said that she had initially not sensed the psychological impacts and had looked forward to going back to the routine of school right away but found that she had to abort her stay on the first day back.
Some six months later, she said she still has a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder and is still a little startled by loud noises.