'Miracle' as girl declared dead in Michigan Uber murders walks out of hospital
Abigail Kopf, a 14-year-old who was declared dead after being shot in the head by the Michigan 'Uber murderer' last month stuns doctors by walking out of hospital
Published 11/03/2016 | 06:26
A teenage girl who was declared dead after being shot in the head by the man charged with carrying out a spate of murders in Michigan last month has miraculously walked out of hospital.
Abigail Kopf was shot through the right-hand side of her head on the evening of February 20 as she made her way home from a musical with a close family friend described as her honorary grandmother.
Jason Dalton has admitted shooting six randomly chosen victims in and around the city of Kalamazoo – attacks apparently carried out over hours during which he ferried passengers around the city as an Uber driver.
Abigail's heart stopped and despite the frantic efforts of several doctors and medical professionals, she was declared dead at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo later that night.
Her parents, Vickie and Gene Kopf, were allowed into the operating room to say goodbye to their daughter.
It was a scene that "no horror movie will ever match," Mr Kopf told the Battle Creek Enquirer, while Mrs Kopf said: "It's an image no human being will ever get out of their head.
"And every night, when I close my eyes, that's the image I see. And I don't know if it will ever fade."
However, as Mrs Kopf lay her head on what she thought was her dead child's still chest, she detected a sign of life – a breath or a feint heartbeat.
"I felt that she was still there, even though they kept telling me she wasn't," she explained.
The doctors rushed back in and Abigail was placed on a ventilator.
Mr and Mrs Kopf were warned that she could be brain-dead and Mrs Kopf asked staff what the procedure was for donating her daughter's organs if necessary.
But, hours later, as the parents sat with their daughter still fearing the worst, Mrs Kopf held Abigail's hand and felt her squeeze back.
The doctors again advised caution, stating that it could be a twitch that can happen as patients fade away.
Abigail kept squeezing, though, and, when Mrs Kopf asked her if she could hear her, the girl entwined her fingers with her mother's.
She underwent emergency brain surgery that night, which was successful, and so began the path to recovery.
Abigail opened her eyes for the first time last week and was released from hospital and taken to a rehabilitation centre on Wednesday.
One doctor suggested the broken skull had given Abigail's injured brain room to swell without putting fatal pressure on the brainstem.
Mrs Kopf explains it differently.
“I think she has a lot of spitfire in her, and I think she just willed herself back," she told the Battle Creek Enquirer.
“Because she was not ready to go yet, and she’s got many more things that she wants to do. I don’t know if I can say it’s a miracle. I think she’s just one strong-willed child, that [said], ‘I’m not finished yet.’ And she’s gonna finish what she started.”
The Kopfs are hopeful that Abigail will now make a full recovery.
"With a little rehab, she'll be very close to functional, if not entirely functional, with no serious repercussions," Mr Kopf explained.
"I'm always a little dubious of the word 'miracle'. Because you can say miracle — what does that mean? Most people tend to use that as an argument from ignorance. We can't explain it, therefore it's a miracle. Fortunate? Absolutely."
Mr Kopf grilled Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on gun control at the televised presidential debate last Sunday.