Correction to This Article
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THE WOUNDED

Injuries Heal, but Mental Scars May Last Much Longer

The 9mm jacketed hollow-point bullets Cho used exacerbated some injuries, says Sydney J. Vail, director of trauma at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The rounds spread into metallic petals
The 9mm jacketed hollow-point bullets Cho used exacerbated some injuries, says Sydney J. Vail, director of trauma at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The rounds spread into metallic petals "like a flower" when they hit the body. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
By Sandhya Somashekhar and Nick Miroff
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nearly a week after Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people, dozens of his lesser-known victims, some of whom avoided death by fractions of an inch as the bullets flew, are beginning to heal.

Many of the 30 wounded were shot while crouching under classroom desks, afraid that the gunman's next round would find them. Some were struck when they raised their hands in panicked attempts to stop bullets aimed at their heads. Others jumped from classroom windows and were injured when they hit the ground.

The severity of their injuries ranges widely. Some will require reconstructive surgery and extensive physical therapy; others are healing relatively quickly from superficial wounds and broken bones.

Five of the injured remained hospitalized in the Blacksburg area last night, all but one in stable or good condition, officials said. Sean McQuade of New Jersey is in critical condition, with a bullet lodged in his brain.

Among the Washington area wounded are Kristina Heeger, 19, of Vienna, who was shot in the stomach, and Katelyn Carney, 21, of Sterling, who was struck in the hand. Doctors will not say how many injuries were caused by gunfire.

In the minutes and hours after the massacre, McQuade was among three students shot in the head who were rushed to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, said Sydney J. Vail, its director of trauma. One of the students died; another remains at a Fairfax hospital with a broken jaw.

Vail said McQuade would probably remain hospitalized for six to eight weeks, and a pressure monitor has been inserted in his cranium to guard against dangerous swelling. It was too early to tell whether he would have long-term damage, Vail said.

Some injuries were exacerbated by the 9mm jacketed hollow-point bullets that Cho used, said Vail, a specialist in ballistic injuries. When hollow-point rounds hit the body, they spread into metallic petals "like a flower," Vail said.

"When the bullet opens, it expands, creating a larger wounding channel," he said. "There are leaflets, or petals, that peel back."

The recovery for others will not be so long. Derek O'Dell was hit in the arm when Cho burst into his German class and began shooting. After the gunman left the room, O'Dell and two classmates wedged their feet against the door, straining to keep him out as he shot through the wood.

"I don't even feel like I can complain or anything, considering what happened to some other people," said O'Dell, 20, resting yesterday at home in Roanoke.

O'Dell's father expects his son's arm to be out of its sling in a week or two. The other part of his recovery could take longer.


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