3-Year-Old Paralyzed By Stray Bullet Is Reunited With EMT Who Saved Her At Her Graduation

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

Fifteen years after she was paralyzed from the chest down, 18-year-old Kai Leigh Harriott has graduated high school — and none other than Joe O’Hare, the EMT who saved her life, was there to witness it.

“She did it. We did it,” Kai’s mom told CBS Boston at the Thursday ceremony.

In 2003, Kai was hit by a stray bullet while she was sitting on the porch of her family’s home in Dorchester. Just 3 years old at the time, Kai was permanently paralyzed by the injury. Joe responded to the incident and carried young Kai to safety, and she’s since gone on to live a full, happy life. As of this past week, she’s a high school graduate.

Joe and Kai’s reunion at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart marked the first time they’ve seen each other since the tragedy that robbed her of her mobility. “Over the last 15 years I’ve watched her through the media and watched her story, and I just felt the need to come and see her graduate from high school,” Joe told CBS.

He still remembers the day he first met her as a scared but brave little girl, he added.

“It was emotional,” Joe said of the graduation ceremony. “She’s an incredible young woman. She’s done wonderful things…. She’s been an advocate for safety in the schools, and certainly a leader to her class here.”

See their long-awaited reunion unfold…

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