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Sniper shooting survivor savors life
Sniper shooting survivor is fully recovered and savoring life

 Caroline Seawell has fully recovered from the 2002 sniper attack in Spotsylvania and lives in South Carolina.
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Date published: 10/7/2012


Caroline Seawell has scars front and back from the sniper's bullet that ripped through her chest.

But she hasn't let her brush with death define her.

She doesn't dwell on what happened--or could have happened--10 years ago this month.

Instead, the former Spotsylvania County resident calls herself "one of the lucky ones."

She knows that 10 of 13 people shot over a three-week stretch in October 2002 didn't survive the onslaught of a pair who came to be known as the Beltway Snipers.

Nor did some who were victims of a cross-country crime spree that preceded the lethal pair's arrival in the nation's capital.

Seawell appeared on a cable television program with the survivor of an Alabama shooting who has endured 20 surgeries to her face after being the victim of an armed robbery.

She also knows about the physical ordeal suffered by the youngest victim--then-13-year-old Iran Brown--who was walking into his Bowie, Md., middle school when a sniper's bullet struck him.

He had life-saving surgery that removed his spleen and parts of his liver and pancreas.

Seawell, by contrast, didn't initially undergo surgery after she was shot on Oct. 4, 2002, by the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle wielded by 41-year-old John Allen Muhammad and 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo.

The bullet that tore through her body hit her liver, a lung and diaphragm and cracked multiple ribs before exiting.

She spent four days in the hospital with a chest tube to help her breathe. She had surgery a month later to insert a piece of mesh to cover a hole in her diaphragm.

By then, her body had mostly healed, she said.

Apart from some deformed ribs, she has no lasting physical effects from the shooting.

But she knows it could have been worse.

"I think the doctors said another half-inch to the left it would have come close to my heart or a major artery, which would have been detrimental," she said.

"I try not to think about it."

9/11 bigger anniversary

Seawell immediately knew she'd been shot.

She told that to the first person who rushed to her aid in the parking lot of Michaels crafts store in front of what was then Spotsylvania Mall.

Her instant reaction was prayer--asking that she survive to raise her two boys.

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