First responder describes saving Parkland shooting victim initially sent to hospital 30 miles away


A first responder choked up as he described saving Madeleine (Maddy) Wilford after she was shot three times at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Lt. Laz Ojeda of the Coral Springs Fire Department said he was initially told to take her to a hospital 30 miles from the Parkland high school because she appeared to be 15.

But he rubbed the shocked student’s sternum several times in the speeding ambulance, asking how old she was.

“She came around,” Ojeda said, fighting back tears. “She told me she was 17.”

At that point, he told the ambulance driver to head to Broward Health North hospital just 10 miles away, where doctors immediately took her in.

“Perhaps if we had gone 30 miles away, she wouldn't have made it,” he said at North Broward Monday. “Something made me disregard a faraway voice saying she needs to go to Broward General. We brought her here.”

Despite her bullet wounds — including one that ripped through her lung and into her stomach — Wilford has made a miraculous recovery, doctors said Monday.

“I’d just like to say that I’m so grateful to be here,” a recovering Wilford said at a news conference alongside Ojeda and medical staff.

She was shot inside a classroom at the high school, which gunman Nikolas Cruz attacked with an AR-15, killing 17 students and staff.

17 PHOTOS
Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
See Gallery
Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Scott Beige - Geography Teacher

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth James Watt​​​​​​​

Chris Hixon - athletic director

Photo Credit: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff

Photo Credit: Florida Youth Soccer Association

14-year-old Alex Schachter

Photo Credit : Getty 

14-year-old Cara Loughran

Photo Credit: Facebook

17-year-old Helena Ramsey

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Alaina Petty

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Gina Montalto

Photo Credit: Facebook

15-year-old Peter Wang
18-year-old Meadow Pollack (left)

Student Jaime Guttenberg

Photo Credit: Facebook 

Student Martin Duque

Photo Credit: Martin Duque/GoFundMe

17-year-old student Nick Dworet

Photo Credit: Instagram 

Football coach Aaron Feis.

Photo Credit: MSDfootball.com

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

Student Joaquin Oliver

Photo Credit: Facebook

Student Luke Hoyer

Photo Credit: Facebook 

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“At first sight it was believed that Maddy had deceased,” Ojeda said. “She looked very pale.”

But an officer shook her and Wilford “made signs of life.”

9 PHOTOS
Florida shooting survivor Maddy Wilford
See Gallery
Florida shooting survivor Maddy Wilford
Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Maddy Wilford gets a kiss from her father, David Wilford, during a news conference on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Maddy Wilford walks in with her mother, Missy Wilford, and father, David Wilford, before a news conference on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Maddy Wilford wipes away a tear as her mother, Missy Wilford, looks on during a news conference on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford, (L) leaves with her parents Missy Wilford and David Wilford after speaking with the media at Broward Health North where she was treated when she was shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford, and her father, David Wilford sit with Igor Nichiporenko, M.D., Medical Director of Trauma Services, Broward Health North, as they speak to the media about the day the hospital and paramedics helped save her life after she was shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford speaks to the media at Broward Health North after being shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford, (C) sits with her parents Missy Wilford and David Wilford as she speaks to the media at Broward Health North where she was treated after being shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford, (C) sits with her parents Missy Wilford and David Wilford as she speaks to the media at Broward Health North after being shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Maddy Wilford, (C) sits with her parents Missy Wilford and David Wilford as she speaks to the media at Broward Health North after being shot multiple times during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she is a student on February 26, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school on February 14th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Doctors performed three surgeries on Wilford over the course of 40 hours, said Dr. Igor Nichiporenko.

“She kept on bleeding,” he said, confirming the teen still had fragments of Cruz’s bullets in her.

“She is very lucky,” Nichiporenko told reporters of her recovery. “Because we're talking about large-caliber bullets penetrating through the chest and the abdomen.”

Nichiporenko said Wilford can physically return to school by next week, although she may have difficulty writing because of existing damage to two upper-body tendons.

The school will resume classes Wednesday, although the portion Cruz shot up will remain closed.

Wilford said the support she’s received has eased the recovery process.

“I just love the fact that we’re sticking together at this,” she said. “I’m just glad that I’m making a full recovery and everything’s going so smoothly.”

Read Full Story