(CHARDON, Ohio) — Ohio school shooting survivor Nick Walczak is partially paralyzed with bullets lodged in his cheek and neck, but doctors are “cautiously optimistic” that he will walk again, the teen’s mother said Thursday.
Walczak, 17, was one of five high school students shot in a rampage at Chardon High School on Monday by accused shooter T.J. Lane, who has been charged with murder. Three students — Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr. and Daniel Parmertor — died from their wounds.
Another wounded student, Joy Rickers, has been released from the hospital. Walczak remains hospitalized.
Walczak’s mother Holly Walczak told a news conference that she believes her son was shot four times: twice in the neck, through the arm and in the back. His brother previously told ABC News that Nick Walczak had no feeling below his chest.
“He has a bullet still in his cheek and his neck,” Holly Walczak said. “He’s just getting feeling back in his legs. It’s going to be a really slow process, they said. He’s going to need spine therapy. The surgeon said they’re cautiously optimistic.”
Nick Walczak went into spinal shock after the shooting, but doctor’s hope he will be able to walk again.
“He’s strong, he’s brave and his age really makes a big difference. I know he can do it,” his mother said.
She said her son has been conscious throughout the ordeal and knows that his friends have died.
“We really try not to talk about it at this point. It’s a little too traumatic for him,” she said. “It’s kind of a blur, at this point.”
Holly Walczak spoke at a news conference along with the families of Hewlin and Parmertor and mentioned the guilt she feels since her son survived the attack.
“The families that have had the losses…it’s a guilty [feeling] for me because they lost and my son was saved. I think that’s the hardest part for me. I feel for them every minute, every hour,” she said.
The mom credits teacher Joseph Ricci for saving her son’s life by dragging him into another room after he was shot and caring for him until paramedics arrived.
“He is the person that saved my son’s life. He pulled him from the hallway into a room. He is forever our hero,” Walczak said. “He’s remarkable. I can’t believe it. Nick would be the fourth victim, otherwise.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, CNN
Seth Olson, Deseret News