USC freshman Martha Childress continues recovery, well-wishes flow from across the state

nophillips@thestate.comOctober 15, 2013 

Martha Childress, 18, is a USC freshman. She was shot early Sunday morning while waiting for a taxi in Five Points.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHILDRESS FAMILY

— The University of South Carolina student paralyzed by a gunshot wound wrote her own Twitter message Monday evening:

“Thanks to everyone who’s kept me in their constant thoughts and prayers through this difficult time! The support means so much to me!” said the message from Martha Childress’s Twitter account.

Jim Carpenter, Childress’s uncle who is serving as the family spokesman, said the 18-year-old USC freshman sent the text Monday while her brother, a student at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, was visiting.

Childress was moved Monday evening to a new room at Palmetto Health Richland, where she continues to recuperate from surgery to repair her liver and a kidney.

And she continues to process the realization that she is paralyzed from the hips down, Carpenter said.

“Sometimes she is lying there in the bed and thinking and trying to process what has happening to her,” he said.

Click here to read The State's coverage of Five Points' crime.

Childress was wounded early Sunday morning as she waited for a cab near the Five Points fountain. She and a high school friend, who was visiting from Clemson, had been to the S.C. State Fair for a Hunter Hayes concert and had gone to Five Points afterward to eat at Pita Pit.

Childress’ mother had told her to take a cab home rather than risk walking late at night.

A random .40-caliber bullet hit Childress, causing her to collapse. The bullet lodged in her spinal cord.

Childress knew she could not feel her legs the moment the bullet struck, Carpenter said.

“She knew when she came out of surgery,” he said. “She told her parents she couldn’t feel her legs.”

Michael Juan Smith faces five charges, including assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, in the shooting. He is in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

Childress, who graduated in the spring from J.L. Mann High School, is a hard worker who makes good grades, her uncle said. She is pledging Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.

“Yesterday, she was worried she was going to get behind in her studies this semester,” Carpenter said.

Few visitors have been allowed but Childress’s brother spent 30 minutes with her because she had asked for him, Carpenter said.

Well wishes for the USC student have been flowing through social media and through personal phone calls to the family.

USC’s baseball coach Chad Holbrook tweeted “We are counting on @marthachildress to throw out a first pitch at a game this spring. You are in our thoughts and prayers!”

Ali Rogers, Miss South Carolina 2012, tweeted, “Lifting up prayers for @marthachildress!!! All my love from up the road in Clemson.”

On Tuesday evening, Childress was sleeping, something necessary for recovery.

“She’s a fighter and the family has decided to fight right along with her,” Carpenter said.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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