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    Columbine students strive for life

    AP
    21 Nisan 2009 - 00:00Son Güncelleme : 21 Nisan 2009 - 11:41

    LITTLETON, Colorado - The "boy in the window" - who fell bloodied and paralyzed into the arms of rescuers during the horrifying Columbine High shooting rampage - is doing just fine. Now 27, Patrick Ireland has regained mobility with few lingering effects from gunshot wounds to his head and leg a decade ago.

    He is married and works in the financial services industry. His mantra: "I choose to be a victor rather than a victim." 

    Like Ireland, many survivors of the April 20, 1999, massacre have moved on to careers in education, medicine, ministry, retail. But emotional scars still can trigger anxiety, nightmares and deeply etched recollections of blood and bodies. Some have written books; a few travel the world to share their experiences to help victims of violence.

    "People have been able to have 10 years to reconcile what happened and see what fits in their life and who they are," said Kristi Mohrbacher of Littleton, who fled Columbine as the gunfire erupted. "It's kind of a part of who I am today. I think my priorities might be a little bit different if I hadn't had that experience."

    Just after 11 a.m. on that day, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, stormed the suburban school, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding about two dozen. The massacre ended with the gunmen's suicides not quite an hour later.

    Sean Graves saw the pair loading weapons in a parking lot and thought they were preparing a senior prank with paintball guns. Graves, Lance Kirklin and Daniel Rohrbough were walking toward them for a better look when the gunmen opened fire, killing Rachel Scott and Rohrbough and critically wounding Anne Marie Hochhalter, Graves and Kirklin, among others.

    In the second-floor library, Ireland was about to finish some homework when he heard pipe bombs exploding in the hallway. Debris fell from the ceiling and a teacher shouted for students to take cover. Ireland was under a table with Dan Steepleton and Makai Hall when they were shot in the knees. Ireland was shot twice in the head and once in a leg, and lost consciousness.

    "I thought how much easier it would be just to give up, stay there and let somebody come get you or whatever would happen to you," Ireland said.

    "But every time those thoughts came in my mind, I thought about all the people that I would be giving up on. ... It was really the friends and family I would be letting down that kept me going."

    Ireland pushed himself up to the window and got the attention of elite police teams below. He doesn't recall flopping over the sill and dropping into the arms of rescuers, the image that grabbed the attention of TV viewers across the United States.

    Ireland recognizes he'll long be remembered as the face of Columbine because of his dramatic rescue. He accepts it as a way to emphasize that Columbine should be another word for "hope and courage." And how does he want to be remembered? "A triumphant recovery and success story."
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