Miracle Moments Miracle Moments Of Personal Growth
Tara's Miracle  

T WAS AN UNUSUALLY PRETTY DAY in December. Tara McCann, 18, was a happy-go-lucky college student looking for something to do. She and her boyfriend left his home in rural Deville, Louisiana, and stopped by a friend’s house to visit. They found him cleaning his room, and taking pity on him, offered to pitch in and help.

As they were tidying up, Tara’s boyfriend picked up an antique pistol and asked his friend where he should store it. As Tara turned to see what his response would be, she felt something hit her in the back just below her right shoulder blade. The gun had accidentally discharged a four-ten shotgun shell containing three slugs. At first she felt nothing, but after a few seconds, the pain set in and she realized she had been shot.

Rather than panic, a sense of calm spread over Tara. She remembers saying, “I’ve been shot and I need to be taken to the hospital.”

PullquoteShocked and terrified, the young men put Tara into a sports utility vehicle that belonged to the friend’s family and sped toward Alexandria, Louisiana, for help. On the way, they spotted a sheriff’s car on the side of the road and decided to stop and call for an ambulance. By now, Tara was having increased difficulty breathing. Her condition had become critical.

“By the time I was put in the ambulance, I knew I was gone,” she said. “As it became harder and harder to breathe, I said a prayer and prepared to die. My life did flash before my eyes, but strangely enough, I wasn’t afraid. I knew that I would be with God if I didn’t make it.”

As the ambulance sped off, Tara asked to be taken to CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, where her mother, Norma McCann, worked as a labor and delivery nurse. Tara’s brother, Chad, who happened to be home alone at the time, was the first family member to hear of the shooting. He jumped in his truck and raced toward the hospital. On the way, he spotted his mother and father driving in the opposite direction, toward home. Chad flagged them down, jumped into their vehicle and they sped toward the hospital. All they knew was that Tara had been shot and was on her way to the hospital. “The emotion I felt at that time—not knowing whether my child was alive or dead—was the absolute worst feeling I have ever experienced,” Norma recalls. “I don’t ever want to feel that emotion again. At times, I felt I couldn’t breathe.”

As she was rushed in to the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini emergency room, the staff began working on Tara. Within a few minutes, her mom, dad and brother arrived. She was allowed to see her family before being taken away for a CT scan. They were relieved to see her, because they worried she was alone and afraid.

Tara says that she wished her family had not worried because, in fact, she did have a close family member with her when she arrived at the ER. “As I looked into my daughter’s eyes,” Norma explained, “she calmly and distinctly told me that it was going to be okay because Pop was here,” she recalled, referring to Tara’s beloved grandfather, who died a few years earlier.

“My memory of Pop being with me at that time is very clear,” Tara said. “I know he was there to prevent me from being afraid and to help me go in peace, if that was what God wanted.”

The CT scan revealed that the bullet’s three slugs had torn through Tara’s body. One slug missed her heart by only a few millimeters and traumatized her right lung, causing her breathing difficulties. It lodged in her liver. The other two slugs were lodged in the tissue between her ribs. Tara was immediately rushed to surgery as her mother, father, brother, and droves of extended family and friends prayed in the waiting room.

“The tremendous outpouring of love and prayers from our family, friends and my Cabrini colleagues were what kept us going,” Norma recalls. A slug was successfully removed from Tara’s liver. But the two slugs between her ribs could not be removed. Those slugs and her scars are constant reminders of the day that transformed her life.

Tara and her mother say that the shooting has changed them forever. “The accident made us realize that life is a gift from God,” said Norma. “We are both more spiritual and more focused since this happened.”

“Before the accident, I took so many things for granted,” Tara said. “Not anymore. The experience was an awakening and now I respect every aspect of life and the lives of those around me.” Tara says she believes she knows the reason God spared her life. “I am here to listen to people,” she said. “That is the way He wants me to share the gift of my life with my family and with others.”

Deborah Randolph
Communications and Advocacy
CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital
Alexandria, Louisiana