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Fighting for her life: Toddler receives treatment at East Tenn Children’s Hospital after being struck by stray bullet.

Ariel Salaices, 2, of Laurel Bloomery is now fighting for her life after a stray bullet struck her in the head last Friday while playing in her yard. The investigation of the incident is ongoing but demonstrates the dangers of celebratory gunfire or the unlawful discharge of a firearm. Submitted photo

By Meg Dickens

Two-year-old Ariel Salaices of Laurel Bloomery was struck in the back right-hand side of her head by a stray bullet last Friday. The bullet severed an artery, which caused a stroke and loss of brain function on that side.
According to current information, (at the writing if this article) Salaices is still receiving treatment at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. Reports show she made it through surgery, but her intracranial pressure has spiked to peaks of 47. Normal levels fall below 20. Salaices’ ICP started dropping on Monday evening, and she is now responding to touch stimuli.
“The doctors said that if they can save the functioning part of the brain, she has a long road ahead,” said Salaices’ aunt, Stephanie Brown.
Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester confirmed with tea media outlets on Sunday that JCSH is investigating the scene, where the bullet came from, and who did the shooting.
According to initial reports, the bullet that hit the back of Ariel’s head had reportedly ricocheted off of a metal post on the swing and slide set located in her back yard. Ariel was first flown to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment before transported to Knoxville.
Tester emphasized that the investigation is still ongoing and deputies are still at the scene trying to determine the details and to find the shooter.
Emphasizing the importance of awareness, Tester said while Mountain City does have an ordinance against discharging a firearms within city limits, the County does not have, which means residents must be vigilant to be aware of their surroundings while suing a firearm including having a back stop to ensure the bullets are contained.
“Please be alert, and careful when using a firearm,” Tester said.
The incident is by no means unprecedented. Organizations such as awareness group, Bullet Free Sky has been advocating against celebratory gunfire and unlawful discharge of a firearm for years.
Bullets can travel up to 3 miles from their origin and may reach a terminal velocity of 500 feet per second. Terminal velocity of 200 feet per second is enough to pierce a human skull.
After multiple injuries of this kind in Montgomery, Alabama, its local government made celebratory gunfire part and or the unlawful discharging of a firearm ordinance and added more severe punishments.
Bullet Free Sky representatives state, “We invite all who are concerned about the deadly practice of celebratory gunfire to take action. Bullets should not be falling from the sky, putting lives in danger while we celebrate. Everyone is at risk if someone near you or within miles of distance decides to use their gun to celebrate.”
Anyone with information on who may have fired a firearm on March 15 near the Trout Run Road area in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee is asked to contact local authorities.
To reach the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, please call 423-727-7761. Anyone who would like to donate to help with the Salaices’ expenses can do so on Ariel’s GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/ariel-salaices.