El­way brings hol­i­day cheer to one fan dur­ing a most di∞cult jour­ney

David Daugh­erty, who nearly died af­ter be­ing shot, gets to see his fa­vorite team play at K.C.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nicki Jhab­vala

kansas city, mo.» David Daugh­erty’s life went into slow mo­tion as his wind­shield ex­ploded and bul­lets pelted the frame of his truck as he trav­eled along east­bound In­ter­state 70 near Li­mon.

It was just af­ter mid­night Aug. 5 and Daugh­erty, a for­mer Army para­trooper and long­time Den­ver Bron­cos fan from Kansas, just wanted to get home af­ter a week’s va­ca­tion in the moun­tains. In­stead, his trip to Colorado was ex­tended by two months as he was left cling­ing for life in, what is so far be­lieved to be, a ran­dom act of vi­o­lence from a car that pulled up along­side him and opened fire.

One bul­let hit Daugh­erty’s spinal cord, im­me­di­ately par­a­lyz­ing him from the waist down. It still re­mains lodged in his back. An­other tore through his left tri­ceps and ripped it off the bone. An­other

col­lapsed his left lung. An­other nar­rowly missed his face be­fore pierc­ing the pas­sen­ger head­rest, he said, and a cou­ple of oth­ers ric­o­cheted by the driver-side mir­ror and into the dash­board, nar­rowly miss­ing him.

Daugh­erty, 51, said he got a view of the per­pe­tra­tors, but his vis­ual of­fered only the ba­sics: the make and color of the car, the num­ber of pas­sen­gers, their skin color and hair color. His mem­ory of those few sec­onds of trauma, how­ever, are still in­cred­i­bly vivid.

He re­mem­bers grasp­ing the steer­ing wheel as his truck tum­bled across the cen­ter me­dian and landed in a ditch on west­bound I-70. He re­mem­bers turn­ing on his haz­ard lights to cre­ate a glow from the in­ter­state, with the hope that a pass­ing truck driver would see him. He re­mem­bers call­ing 911 and pro­vid­ing every de­tail imag­in­able: his lo­ca­tion, the sever­ity of his in­juries, the de­scrip­tion of the car in­volved, his next of kin, his blood type, his So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber, his ad­dress, even the pass code to his phone.

“I think a lot of it was just kind of an auto-re­sponse be­cause of all the years I spent in the Army,” said Daugh­erty, who served 24 years. “I could hear the 911 op­er­a­tor say­ing: ‘David, are you still there? David, are you still there?’ I know I’m los­ing lots of blood and my vi­sion is get­ting very blurry, but at this point I’m es­sen­tially get­ting my­self right with God be­cause that’s where I’m headed next.”

Then it all started to fade, as blood poured from his body and his con­scious­ness went in and out. Deputies ar­rived and im­me­di­ately ap­plied a ch­est-wound kit and tourni­quet to stop the bleed­ing. Daugh­erty was trans­ported by he­li­copter to The Med­i­cal Cen­ter of Au­rora, where emer­gency surg­eries re­paired his wounds and ul­ti­mately saved his life.

Af­ter about a week, Daugh­erty was trans­ferred to Englewood’s Craig Hospi­tal, which spe­cial­izes in spinal cord in­juries, to spend two months re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing and be­gin­ning a new life — with­out the use of his legs. His ac­tive hob­bies of old had to be re­placed. His house had to be mod­i­fied to ac­com­mo­date a wheel­chair, and a new car with hand con­trols had to be made. Both were ac­com­plished with the help of fam­ily, friends, co­work­ers and even donors he had never met, who con­trib­uted to his GoFundMe web­site.

News of the in­ci­dent quickly got out, but Daugh­erty’s name and de­tails of his hor­ror and re­cov­ery were omit­ted. But they were shared with the Bron­cos and gen­eral man­ager John El­way, who worked be­hind the scenes to en­sure that his life would change for the bet­ter again in Novem­ber and once more on Sun­day at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

On Oct. 6, Daugh­erty com­pleted the trip he tried to make in Au­gust and re­turned home. About a month later, on his first day back at work as a dis­trib­u­tor sup­port man­ager for Fair­bank Scales, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent, Rick Nor­den, pulled him into his of­fice un­der the guise of sim­ply want­ing to catch up. Then the phone rang.

“On the other end I hear, ‘Hi, Dave. It’s John El­way,’ ” Daugh­erty said. “I’m play­ing along think­ing this is maybe a joke, but I know what John El­way’s voice sounds like and it cer­tainly sounds like John El­way. Two min­utes into the con­ver­sa­tion it dawns on me that this is John El­way. That was the coolest thing I think may have ever hap­pened to me.”

The five-minute con­ver­sa­tion started about Daugh­erty’s health, con­tin­ued on about all the Sun­days he spent watch­ing El­way and ended with an in­vi­ta­tion. El­way in­vited Daugh­erty and a friend to be his guests at Sun­day’s Bron­cos-Chiefs game at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

About an hour be­fore kick­off Sun­day in Kansas City, Daugh­erty, wear­ing a navy Bron­cos hoodie and El­way wear­ing his usual navy suit, met and chat­ted in the tun­nel of Ar­row­head Sta­dium as rain poured down on the field.

“I was so ner­vous,” Daugh­erty said with a wide smile.

The meet­ing was brief but cer­tainly wel­come af­ter a try­ing jour­ney that still has many unan­swered ques­tions.

“The case is open at this point. I don’t spend a lot of time think­ing about will they ever catch these guys or think­ing about my life re­ally as it was be­fore this in­ci­dent, be­cause I can’t re­ally change yes­ter­day at all,” Daugh­erty said. “For my own well-be­ing, I just have to look be­yond it and fo­cus on to­day and to­mor­row.

But his most re­cent yes­ter­day is one he won’t want to for­get.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

David Daugh­erty, a Bron­cos fan, watches from the sideline be­fore the game at Kansas City on Sun­day.

Bron­cos fan David Daugh­erty meets with John El­way prior to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sun­day at Ar­row­head Sta­dium. Daugh­erty was shot sev­eral times by a passerby while driv­ing on In­ter­state 70 east of Den­ver on Aug. 5. John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.