Tuesday night’s fireworks will be unforgettable for Debbie Dunaway, but not because of the booming sights and sounds.
No, Independence Day 2017 will go down as the holiday in which a stray rifle bullet went into Dunaway’s head but didn’t touch her skull.
“The doctors and nurses just couldn’t believe that I took a bullet that size to the head and it didn’t do anything,” Dunaway said Wednesday.
Dunaway, 54, and her husband, Tracy, were watching the fireworks from his fishing boat on the Kentucky River. Suddenly she felt pain.
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“I thought somebody had shot me in the head with fireworks,” Debbie Dunaway said. “My husband grabbed my head and looked and said, ‘You’ve been shot!’”
“I was bleeding a little and I had a big knot come up instantly,” she said. “But it felt like somebody took a hammer and hit me as hard as they could in the back of the head.”
An ambulance met the Dunaways at the Beattyville boat dock. She was taken to Marcum & Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine, where a CT scan was taken of the bullet at the back of her head.
“They said if it had traveled another inch or half-inch, it would have hit the brain stem,” Dunaway said.
She was later flown by helicopter to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington, where the bullet was removed.
“They didn’t even do surgery,” she said. “They just numbed me and took it out in the ER. They took tweezers and pulled it out.”
Dunaway kept the bullet, which is bent at the tip. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Dunaway said she and her husband, who own and operate a Beattyville floral shop, have laughed and cried about it.
“He said I took a bullet for his boat so it didn’t get a hole in it,” she said, chuckling.
More seriously, she said, people “need to be more careful when they’re out shooting. You never know where those bullets are going to go. It was just a freak accident.”