'Cherish every moment' - Mall shooting survivor expresses gratitude

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Kristina Shevchenko was just 20 minutes from home when she crossed the gunman's path. Twenty minutes that turned into a week in the hospital and a lifetime of emotional wounds.

“It's really hard to explain,” says the soft spoken 15-year-old.

Nearly two weeks after she was shot at the Clackamas Town Center Mall, Shevchenko  still struggles to come to terms with what happened.

“It is like a miracle that I'm recovering as quick as I am.”

Shevchenko was cutting through the mall on her way home from school when she saw the gunman walk out of Macy's.

She says it didn't seem real at the time -- even as she was hit by a bullet, piercing her lung and liver.

“I guess my brain didn't want to realize it could be real at that moment.”
  
As she ran from the mall with her best friend, the teen told a police officer she'd been shot. The officer didn't believe her, until she showed her wounds.

Shevchenko doesn't blame the officer, nor does she pass judgment on the shooter, saying, “maybe he had a really bad life.” She does, however, feel guilty for surviving when two others died.

“Why should they have to be the ones that weren't able to run away? They were just passing by like all of the people. Why should they be the ones?”
 
Shevchenko is making a strong recovery. She says she doesn't have nightmares, and the scariest part for her was knowing the pain her parents were enduring while she was in the hospital.

“They would be calm until after I couldn't see them. That's when they would have their own breakdowns. It's when I can't see that they're sad.”

For now, Shevchenko is simply happy to be home with her family. She also has a new found gift of gratitude this Christmas for the life she gets to live.

“We have to cherish every moment because you never know when it could be the last.”

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