LINWOOD, Kan. — Doctors thought a Linwood, Kansas girl wouldn’t make it 24 hours after a stray bullet hit her in the head, but she survived. Nearly four years later, Katherine Cook continues to amaze everyone around her.
Cook was playing in her backyard when a single bullet changed her life. The bullet came from a mile away and hit the then five-year-old girl.
“She had gone outside to play snowballs with her brothers,” said Katherine’s mom Joanne Cook. “Her brother came in screaming, 'Katherine’s been shot.'”
Doctors told the mom her daughter’s brain swelling would peak after three days.
“I said, ‘So we’ve got three days?’” Cook said. “He said, ‘Oh no, she’s not even going to make it’. That was like a slap in the face.”
The five-year-old continued to breathe and continued to fight.
“We had people all over the world praying for her,” she said. “The word went out, and we had people in other countries and what not praying for her. I honestly believed that it was the power of God that saved her because medically we were told she’s not coming through this.”
A few months later with intensive therapy Cook sat up on her own. Four years later she rides the school bus on her own. Now in the third grade, she’s a year behind, but far beyond what was ever expected. Her brain injury makes her chatty and perhaps too trusting, according to her mother.
The girl’s cognitive abilities are surprisingly good. Her impulse control is limited. Sometimes she eats even if she’s not hungry and she has some sort of therapy almost every day.
Katherine has no memory of the shooting. A tip led police to three men who had been target shooting on a neighboring property. None of the men were ever charged because the prosecutors can’t prove which man fired the bullet.
She will have to live with that bullet for the rest of her life. Doctors say removing it from her brain would be more dangerous than leaving it.