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Young woman faces long recovery

Following shooting in November


by: HOLLY M. GILL - Jessica Haynes is flanked by her parents, David and Joanne Haynes, with sisters Melissa Schonneker (back left) and B.J. Heckathorn behind her.Just over three months ago, the family of Jessica Haynes, of Madras, was unsure whether or not she'd ever regain consciousness.

On the evening of Nov. 30, 2013, the 23-year-old was shot in the face by Thomas Knapp, her boyfriend. She was flown by Air Life to St. Charles Bend, where she lay in a coma for 12 days, with family members by her side.

The bullet, from a 9mm handgun, had entered on the right side of her nose, shattering bones around her eye, and exiting behind her right ear.

Her parents, Joanne and David Haynes, of Metolius, and sisters, Melissa Schonneker and B.J. Heckathorn, of Madras, and Sonja Castro, of Seattle, Wash., rallied around her, spending as much time as possible with her over the last few months.

"Every single day we go over there, 50 miles over and 50 miles back," said Joanne Haynes, who has spent time with her daughter on a daily basis since the incident.

When Jessica regained consciousness, they were better able to assess the damage, which includes blindness in her right eye, no peripheral vision in her left eye, and paralysis on the left side of her body.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Joanne Haynes talks to her daughter, Jessica, who is recovering from a gunshot wound. Last Thursday, Jessica Haynes was able to return to Jefferson County for the first time since November to attend a fundraiser in her honor at the Desert Inn."At first, she wasn't moving her right side at all," said Heckathorn. "Then, it started with squeezes; she would squeeze your hand."

Jessica's response, while exciting to her family, was sporadic. "Some days, we wouldn't get a squeeze out of her," recalled Heckathorn.

As Jessica regained movement on her right side, she was able to communicate with the family by writing. "We were very excited about that," said Heckathorn.

Before Christmas, Jessica was transferred to Vibra Specialty Hospital of Portland, where her mother stayed with her from Dec. 23 to Jan. 23.

"At that time, she didn't talk," said Joanne Haynes, noting that her daughter had both tracheostomy and feeding tubes. "They had to do everything you do to a baby."

Gradually, Jessica has shown improvement.

"When they took the trach out, she had to learn to swallow and talk again," said Heckathorn. "She'd have ice cubes and it would go down the wrong pipe."

Today, she continued, Jessica has progressed to eating soft foods, "like an egg sandwich, but you have to have somebody sit there with her."

Since the shooting, family members say that Jessica's personality has changed. "She's a lot more blunt," said her mother, noting that sometimes, shortly after they arrive for a visit, she'll say, "OK, you can leave now."

Schonneker said that her sister was generous and helpful. "She was always so giving," she said.

Heckathorn agreed. "She was caring. She always would help anybody," she said.

The bullet hole has healed, with a barely noticeable scar, but it's unclear how much improvement can be expected from other damage caused by the shooting.

Jessica, who is in considerable pain, speaks in a quiet voice and wears a helmet to protect her head where part of her skull was removed.

"They cut a piece of her skull out," said Joanne Haynes. "The bone was too damaged to put back. They're going to have to make a plastic one."

"She's got to have reconstruction on her face," said Haynes. "Her eye is there, but we don't know if it will ever work."

"The left side of her body doesn't work at all. She has a little sensation, like when you touch her left leg, it tingles, but it's like dead weight," she said.

With assistance, Jessica can now sit in a wheelchair, and last Thursday, was able to return home for a short time to attend a fundraiser in her honor at the Desert Inn in Metolius.

Owner Larry Semm put on a spaghetti feed for $10 a plate, with a keg of beer donated by Budweiser. Semm donated $7 for each of the 73 meals sold, as well as the full $2 he charged for every beer, and $1 for other drinks, for a total of $744.

Besides family and friends, co-workers, teachers and others in the community attended the event to show their support. Many were impressed with Jessica's progress.

Jessica's friend, Denise Sommers, of Madras, who worked with her as an education assistant at School District 509-J, said that she believes Jessica's recovery is going well

"She has a good heart about it, and a strong will," said Sommers. "She's a fighter. She's overcome a lot of things; she's talking and they didn't think she'd talk."

Marcus Schonneker, Jessica's brother-in-law, is also pleased with Jessica's improvement.

"I'm just amazed at how she's changed from the first time I saw her (after the shooting)," he said. "It's just leaps and bounds."

Jessica and her family are optimistic that she will be able to return home to heal after the surgery to replace her skull, which hasn't yet been scheduled.

"We don't know what's going to happen after the surgery," said her mother. "We're hoping to bring her home. Hopefully, they can get her up and walking."

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills have begun arriving. For those wishing to help with the medical bills, an account has been set up at the Madras branch of U.S. Bank in Jessica Haynes' name.

The family is very grateful for the support. "Everybody that's helped, we thank so much," said David Haynes.



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  • 29 Aug 2014

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