Samantha Grady, a survivor of February’s tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, visited Cayman last week and shared her experiences with local teenagers.
Ms. Grady was a keynote speaker at the Savannah Adventist Church on Friday, July 6, and she spoke again at the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac the next day. The 17-year-old told of her experience being wounded in a school shooting that left 14 students and three faculty members fatally injured.
Ms. Grady also sang at the Savannah Church on July 8.
She was invited to Cayman along with her parents Sally and Jim by Pastor Shion O’Connor, the president of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Pastor O’Connor said he has known the Grady family for 10 years.
“When I heard of the tragedy and that Samantha was one of the victims, I visited her at her home in Coral Springs,” Pastor O’Connor said in a press release. “Having learned of her incredible survival story, I felt compelled to have it shared with the youth of these Islands, many of whom are currently in colleges and universities abroad or leaving shortly to be enrolled.”
Ms. Grady told the assembled audience that she was injured by a bullet that grazed her back and by another projectile that ricocheted and hit her in the chest. Her chest wound was stapled at the hospital, but fragments of the bullet that struck her still remain lodged inside her chest.
Ms. Grady said that her best friend – who had been crouching close to her – was fatally shot in the attack, and she said she could recall the moments of terror that gripped her and her classmates.
“I remembered praying to God, ‘You’ve got this; you know what you are doing,’” she said. “I had this reassurance; I had this ‘fact’ in my brain that I was not going to die, and that helped to calm my mind.”
Ms. Grady and her mother recounted for the audience how they had gathered for worship the morning before the attack. They looked for moments of solace in the tragedy, and Ms. Grady said she is “definitely more in tune with God,” in the wake of the school shooting.
Ms. Grady suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is startled by loud noises in the aftermath of the attack.
Her father spoke about what it was like to go to the school on the day of the shooting to collect his daughter.
“It was the worst day of my life,” he said. “It changes your life – you may once have taken everything for granted … [but] now life is so precious; I just want to hold on to her.”