Kentucky fan shot in the face in Vista shooting returns to thank doctors
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Kentucky woman who was shot in the face when gunfire broke out in The Vista this time last year has returned to the Midlands for the first time since the shooting.
Denise Massey was one of eight people injured in the shooting that night. She suffered a gunshot wound to her face, suffering from life-threatening injuries.
One year later, Denise is alive and well and re-visiting the Midlands to thank the people who saved her life.
She reunited with the doctor and nurse who treated her for the first time Wednesday since their first encounter back on September 16, 2017.
Massey and then-boyfriend Jimmy Brannon were visiting Columbia for the first time to see University of South Carolina football team take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
Massey said the trip was a spur of the moment thing.
"He called me up and said 'there's a football game going on this weekend. Would you like to go?'" Massey said.
But the two would never make it to Williams Brice Stadium. The night before the game, they decided to check out The Vista for a bite to eat.
"I remember hearing gunshots, but they were over to the right of me. So, I didn't have any immediate concern," Massey said.
They were much closer to danger than they thought.
"The shots got louder and when I looked up I saw the fire come out of the gun barrel, two people hanging out of a vehicle, and I felt the impact of the bullet," Massey described.
Surveillance video from that night shows the moment Denise is thrown to the ground after being shot in the face. Denise's boyfriend at the time, Jimmy Brannon, described the moment Denise was hit.
"There was just a huge amount of blood and I've seen blood from things before, but just a whole lot of blood. I really didn't think she would make it," Brannon said.
Dr. Aaron Moore who treated Denise says she suffered a gunshot wound to the face with an exit wound near her spine.
"She was the one who was most severely hurt," Dr. Moore said.
Dr. Moore says it was unclear if Denise would have a severe brain injury or even survive, but after 11 days in the hospital she was back home and three months after that she was at the altar saying "I do."
"He's been by my side 24/7. I mean, he's a wonderful man," Denise said of her new husband.
It has been one year since the shooting in the Vista and the couple has returned to the Midlands as husband and wife bringing gifts from Kentucky for the Palmetto Health Trauma Center - specifically Dr. Moore, and physician assistant, Lacey Humphries.
"I wanted to see Dr. Moore and Lacey again and thank them for the wonderful job that they did," Denise said.
It's an unusual sight for the staff who helped to save Denise's life.
"This is not something we get in our world. We deal with a lot of doom and gloom. Having patients come back and say 'thanks,' these are the days that make it all worth-while," Dr. Moore said.
Dr. Moore and Denise also credit several bystanders with saving her life that day. They put a towel around her to help stop the bleeding.
That's one reason why Palmetto Health has an ongoing campaign called "Stop the Bleed" which teaches people at places like schools and churches how to assist someone who is injured. They say it's the moments before the ambulance arrives that are the most critical. For more information, visit the campaign's web page.
Five men have since been arrested in connection to the shooting that injured Denise Massey and now face multiple charges included attempted murder.
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