Community rallies around accidental shooting victim

Friday, December 23, 2011
Tribune photo by Clint Confehr Samuel Crane's little sister, Alexis, sits on his right leg as his new friends were a little shy about being photographed at a surprise presentation of a guitar, amp, speaker and related wires to Samuel for Christmas.

From staff reports

The Marshall County boy who suffered an accidental gunshot wound on Oct. 29, decided to have his leg amputated and this week he spoke of his experience, reflecting a strong will and an optimistic outlook.

"It ain't brought me down," Samuel Crane said while seated in a wheel chair at a Lewisburg business surrounded by friends, family and people filled with the Christmas spirit of love for their fellow man. "I'm doing everything I did before."

Samuel spoke at a business on North Ellington Parkway where he was given a surprise Christmas gift. He's wanted a guitar and two business partners decided to give one to him. It's complete with amplifier, speaker and the required wires.

The 13-year-old Lewisburg Middle School football and baseball player anticipates playing sports again. Much of that may depend on the kind of artificial leg he uses, he agreed during a cell phone call while riding home with his mother from Kentucky.

Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington, Ky., has accepted Samuel as a patient and the prospect of having an artificial leg was part of his decision to proceed with surgery to remove his left leg. A mold for the fitting is to be completed by the end of February.

During the nearly two months since the accident, Marshall County residents have had fundraising activities to benefit Samuel and his relatives who are faced with greater responsibilities for an active teen.

Samuel hasn't been hunting again yet, but said, "I know I will be hunting again," and he anticipates hunting with his father. His mother, Alisha, explained that the hunting rifle discharged because of a malfunction of a safety device.

Samuel was rushed from where his father parked his Dodge Durango that afternoon. At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the boy realized he would probably have to sacrifice the lower half of his leg and that knee.

It was "when I heard them talk about it in the hospital," he said. "They said if it wasn't removed, they I wouldn't be a normal 12-13-year-old boy. When I heard that, I told them...

"I want to play sports again," Samuel said.

"Physical education, math, science, every subject" are the classes he likes, and it seems clear that his preference is in that order.

Samuel's mother spoke about his experience and then turned the cell phone over to her son as they drove to a restaurant.

Samuel's father, Shane, had the hunting rifle "in his hands" and was "unloading the gun" when it fired, the boy said, confirming that the discharge was not a result of carelessness. It was a malfunction, "Yes," Samuel said.

Alisha had already said as much. She and Shane are divorced and the family knows he wants to hunt with his father again.

The gun discharged as Samuel walked around the corner of the Durango, Alisha said.

"I really didn't know I was shot until I fell," Samuel said. "I really didn't have that much pain.

"He (Shane) asked where was I shot. I said below my knee and then he grabbed it and he had blood all over his hands.

Thereafter, the Marshall County Emergency Medical Service rushed to the Belfast area at about 4:15 p.m. An Air Evac helicopter ambulance flew Samuel to Vanderbilt. Both emergency crews visited Samuel in the hospital this month.

"He's a very strong and very brave boy," Alisha said, recalling that she feared the worst on that Saturday evening.

"I was working at the time and his dad called and told me," she said. "I left work and took off. I was hysterical. All I heard was that he was shot. The worst was going through my mind."

At Vanderbilt she was able to see him when they get him stable.

"I wasn't able to talk with him much. I was able to tell him, 'I'm here and I love you.' In a matter of minutes, they took him to surgery."

"Of course they told us they'd try to save the leg and that they had taken a vein from right leg. The couldn't rebuild it yet."

The harvested vein was used to see if circulation would go to the wounded leg.

"They couldn't guarantee anything, but if it did take, then he'd have had to have several surgeries to save the leg. If they did, they couldn't guarantee that it would be a normal leg and that he'd be able to walk again."

That was on Saturday Nov. 19.

"Monday, the vascular surgeon looked at the leg," Alisha said. Samuel's left foot was purple. Blood "was circulating down, but not back to the heart.

"Samuel was really the one who said, "I'd rather have it off from my knee down rather than from my hip down."

Doctors explained there was a greater chance of gangrene if they didn't amputate above the knee.

The bullet went up under his knee and out the back of his calf. It shattered some of his knee on the bottom.

"For his prosthetic to work right, they had to remove the knee," Alisha said.

"Then, one of Samuel's baseball coaches gave me an application (for him to become a patient at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington, Ky.) and that's how we found out about Shriners."

Shane "is just devastated about it," Alisha said. "We all know it was an accident. I know he feels bad and is hurt like any other parent would be. He was unloading the gun and Samuel came around the side of the truck and it went off.

"It's come out that there was a safety default on the gun," she continued. "The game warden and the detective found out there was a safety default."

It was not an accident as a result of carelessness, she confirmed.

"My main thing is that he's alive," Alisha said. "I'm thankful that he is alive."

As a result of the gun's malfunction, she said, "I've met people who I've never met before. It's incredible how strangers will help somebody."

Relatives, new friends and recently made friends surrounded her son at a Lewisburg business on Tuesday afternoon. Most spoke of their desire to make someone's Christmas time better this year. All were less concerned about being in the spotlight, and several insisted that they not be named. On that day, the boy was the story, and his spirit to continue his life as expected.

He wants to be a baseball player.

"I will have one (a prosthesis) that will look like a normal leg within six weeks," Samuel said.

"I want to thank all my friends for being there with me."

Christmas is turning out "good," he said.