On March 20th, 1993, Officer Danny Vaughan was working the front desk at the Houston Police District’s South Central station when a young man walked in, pulled out a gun and shot Vaughan point blank in the face – four times.
Vaughan was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital. He remembers how one emergency technician helped him fight for his life.
“When I got shot, Beverly Yarborough sat down and bled with me and talked to me. And when they laid me in the back of the ambulance, she told me to look her in the eye and just concentrate on her.”
Vaughan underwent eight hours of surgery and was put into a medically induced coma for 18 days. More surgeries followed as well as months of intensive rehab. He walked out of the hospital in September of the same year, although blind on his right eye and partly paralyzed.
He has come back every year since to thank first responders and medical personnel for saving his life.
On the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, Vaughan is still recovering.
“I’ll be recovering until the day I die, the way I look at it. Every day is some a little better.”
He says not a day goes by that he isn’t reminded of the shooting. But he has forgiven the shooter, who is serving a life sentence in prison.
“I forgave him because I believe in your heart to go on with your future, you gotta let go of your past. And part of letting go of your past is forgiveness. I forgave him for shooting me. I forgave myself for not acting fast enough to defend myself. I forgave the officers in the room who didn’t help me.
“And last but not least, I forgave God for turning his back on me. But then a friend of mine told me, Danny, God didn’t turn his back on you. He delivered you from the graveyard. He was watching your back.”
Dr. Ken Mattox is the chief of staff at Ben Taub and was one of the surgeons on duty when Vaughan came in. He says when he first saw Vaughan, he rated his chances of survival at less than 15 percent.
“We saw the trajectory. We saw the injury. We said this is one we can work with. It doesn’t cross the midline. It doesn’t go totally through the middle of the brain. It has an area of the brain we can debride and take care of and decompress.”
Vaughan was able to work as a police academy instructor for eight years after the shooting and retired in 2001. He is now a published author and public speaker.