Man struck by bullet on I-35 is grateful children weren’t hit

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MIAMI COUNTY, Kan. -- An Olathe man traveling with his family suddenly found himself the victim of a random shooting last Friday night. The Miami County Sheriff's Department is still trying to figure out what happened and why, but it appears the family van and a random bullet just happened to cross paths. The victim said in a way, this shooting was a blessing in disguise.

Mark Vanderweide, his wife and three kids were all packed into the family van Friday night headed for a weekend trip to the lake. They were on I-35 just south of Edgerton when there was a loud noise.

"There was an unexpected pop and then pain, blood," said Vanderweide.

After he pulled the van over, his wife found the bullet hole in the side of the van. That bullet is still in Vanderweide's leg, doctors will remove it later when his leg is more healed. He had to go through extensive surgery and his recovery is a bit uncertain.

"It was basically dead from the knee down," Vanderweide said, "I didn't have blood or oxygen or pulse on that part of the leg."

He has 32 staples where the bullet hit him and 17 more in his other leg where doctors had to take a vein to repair his artery. If everything heals okay he might be walking and running again in a couple of months. That's a lot to wrap his mind around. When it first happened Friday night he said he was just in shock.

"As you're driving in a minivan through Johnson County, you're not thinking bullet," he said, "Thought something in the engine backfired, maybe hit my leg."

Vanderweide said it's been tough to see his three young kids coping with all this, and he's tried to talk to them about it in a positive way.

"The fact that that bullet was out there and could have gone anywhere and the fact it went in daddy's leg was a great thing, and God protected us from that perspective," he said.

Vanderweide hopes the sheriff's department gets to the bottom of what happened and why; he does want to see justice served. But he says his main focus is getting better.

"The only thing in my head is if the timing were a few seconds off the bullet would have been behind me and hit my little boy or little girl," he said, "So I'm thankful it was me. People say they would take a bullet for their family, I was fortunate to be able to do it."

The sheriff's department said it searched the area Friday night and didn't find anything to help determine where the bullet came from. Investigators are still looking into it and if you have any information, give them a call at (913) 294-4444.

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