A five-year-old boy is one of the last victims from the Sutherland Springs shooting that remains hospitalized. Now family members believe he could be out of San Antonio’s University Hospital in a few weeks.
Ryland Ward, who was shot five times, was one of the 20 injured victims rushed to hospitals Nov. 5, when a gunman killed more than two dozen others during a church service. Ryland suffered wounds to his kidney, bladder, arm and leg. Ryland's great-uncle Earl McMahan says Ryland has undergone multiple surgeries over the last six weeks.
“Right now he’s got a brace on the outside of his leg — screws and pins through his hip down to his femur. He has his arms wrapped. He’s been having skin grafts on it,” he said. “They’ve done all they can for it. There’s going to be more surgeries later on but we’ll just take it as we go.”
Ryland does not have a damaged spirit. Last week he made a request for Christmas cards to be sent to him at University Hospital. So far he’s received almost 3,000 cards.
“He just loves receiving these cards,” McMahan said. "He just lights up. He’s got such an awesome smile, and just to see him smile makes everybody happy.”
Ryland lost three family members in the shooting. His step-mother Joanne Ward was killed along with Ryland’s sisters, Brooke Ward and Emily Garcia. Joanne Ward sacrificed her life in hopes of saving her children, McMahon said.
“Ryland would not be here if she had not laid on top of him,” he said. “She was a really special person.”
The family credits the hospital staff and prayers for helping Ryland in his recovery. “There’s just been so many — just not in Texas and the United States but around the world — that’s been praying for him and the others involved,” McMahon said.
Ryand was carried out of First Baptist Church by Rusty Duncan, one of the first responders to the scene.
“He’s the one that found Ryland in that place and picked him up,” McMahon said.” (He) carried him outside, put the tourniquets on his arm and his leg. … From what I’ve heard the doctors say, (that) is what saved his life.”
Ryland still has a few surgeries to go before release but family members hope he can be home sometime around his sixth birthday early next month.
Joey Palacios can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Joeycules