She Was Playing Kickball When She Was Hit By A Stray Bullet. Now She’s 36, Paralyzed, And Reclaiming Her Independence

Anna Orso and Jessica Griffin
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This is the story of Amanda Lyons whose life was turned upside down after she was shot in a North Philadelphia park.


Amanda Lyons had just finished a kickball game in a North Philadelphia park when gunshots flew.
She fell to the ground, hit in the back by a stray bullet, and was taking in breaths that grew increasingly painful. The 36-year-old was motionless from the waist down while her teammates, some of whom work in the medical field, tended to her until paramedics arrived.
“I can’t feel my legs,” Lyons said.

It has been seven months since that shooting just after 9 p.m. on May 19, when a gunman opened fire in Hancock Playground, hitting a 16-year-old boy in the shoulder and striking Lyons in the back. No one has been arrested.

The split second left Lyons paralyzed with a severed spinal cord and relegated her to a wheelchair indefinitely, forcing her to adapt to a life that looks completely different from the one she had planned. An occupational therapist by trade, Lyons is now the type of patient she used to treat: a gunshot victim who must learn new techniques to perform basic tasks.

Her experience in medicine also means she is acutely aware that she was inches from an outcome worse than paralysis. Just after Lyons awoke in the hospital, she video-chatted with her mother. The first thing she said was: “Mommy, I could have died.”

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