NIU shooting victim to leave hospital

February 25, 2008 4:00:31 PM PST
After 11 days at Good Samaritan Hospital, one of the students injured in the NIU shooting rampage was released Monday. Maria Ruiz-Santana was shot several times by gunman Steven Kazmierczak on February 14, 2008. Her recovery is far from over, but the 20-year-old is ready to go home.

"All she remembers is hearing every single shot that was going. She was awake all the time. There was a moment when she lost conscious and she came back. The chief of police, Chief Brady was the one who was the first one there and stayed with her," said Alfredo Ruiz, Ruiz-Santana's father.

Ruiz said his daughter remembers trying to stand up after being shot, then hearing more shots. "She went down again and tried not to move," he said.

More than 20 pellets from a single shotgun blast hit her in the chest, head and neck, and she underwent five hours of surgery. Doctors said her youth and strong spirit are aiding her recovery.

"I had one very brief conversation with her, and I was surprised to see how very well adjusted she is at this point with all the events, but I suspect that later down the road when she revisits her school, revisits her friends that a different set of emotions will come to the surface," said Dr. Peter Petratof, trauma surgeon.

Doctors said Ruiz-Santana suffered a partial paralysis to her vocal chords.

Ruiz-Santana's father said his daughter, a criminology major, is determined to finish school and go into law enforcement, possibly pursuing a career with the FBI.

"Right now she feels sorry for this guy who was shooting. She has no anger against him," said Ruiz. He said Ruiz-Santana was 'devastated' to hear two friends- Catalina Garcia, 20, and Ryanne Mace, 19, with whom she was sitting on the day of the shooting- had been killed.