A San Diego family is sharing how their cousin, Kendall Olivarez, 9, is among the children who were injured during the Texas school shooting last week. Olivarez suffered three major wounds after she was struck by a bullet and is undergoing surgeries, and facing critical physical and emotional recovery.
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, killing 19 children and two teachers and injuring many more students in their last week of school before the summer break.
“It’s almost a miracle that she survived,” said Melissa Abeyta. “When you think about the time that lapsed and then the type of wounds that they have, it’s just, it’s a lot to grapple with.”
Abeyta is a San Diego native and one of Kendall’s cousins who were able to visit her at University Hospital in San Antonio this weekend.
“It’s just going to take a lot of repairs and because she’s a child, and you know a smaller body, they’re breaking down the surgeries into doable surgeries for her so that her body can handle that,” explained Abeyta.
On Sunday, Kendall completed her third surgery as doctors work to repair tissue damage that was done. The fourth-grader has three open wounds after a bullet struck her left shoulder piercing her body and creating two more wounds around her lower body and legs.
“They’re just very difficult days for her, her surgery days are hard for her, she’s really sad,” said Abeyta. “She’s also kind of grappling with, you know, not being able to have the movement that she had previously.”
While Kendall is working on her emotional and physical recovery just down the hall from her in the same hospital are children in critical care as they also remember their classmates, friends and even family that did not make it.
“Through her mom’s side she had a cousin that passed away in the same classroom, so it’s also realizing just the extent of the kind of tragedy,” said Abeyta. “Like you have one child whose healing, but their cousin passed away.”
As Kendall prepares for her fourth surgery scheduled for Friday, her family is calling for more support and sharing their gratitude for the funds raised and getting well wishes sent.
Abeyta said when she first heard about the shooting she was worried if Kendall’s parents had enough money to afford gas to travel from Uvalde to the San Antonio hospital where her daughter was taken.
“This is a community that needs your voice, this is a community that needs our financial support,” said Abeyta.
Kendall does not yet have a potential release date as she still has several surgeries ahead of her.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to save up money for hospitalization costs, and they are also collecting digital messages of get well wishes, here.