By Josh Saunders
A pregnant mum who survived fatal gunshots to the face and back from her husband hopes for surgery that will allow her to live without crippling pain.
Roxana Nelson, 32, from Harman, West Virginia, USA, never expected husband Donald Lee Nelson, 43, to pull the trigger while threatening her over a belongings dispute.
She thought she was going to die, after her face began to pour with blood from where the bullet tore through her left cheek and emerged from the right-side of her neck.
Time slowed-down like a movie as she fell to the floor, as Nelson shouted at her having shot her twice – also breaking her clavicle, scapula and damaging her lung.
She claims she then had to talk him around, after he pointed the gun at her three-year-old daughter who was pleading ‘stop hurting mommy’, before fleeing the scene.
Roxie said: “He had the gun and pointed it at my face, I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t have any fear of him and assumed it wasn’t loaded so I pushed it out the way.
“I thought he must be crazy for threatening me with a gun.
“Soon after I was hit in the head with a bullet, all I heard was a really loud, high-pitched noise.
“Then just like in movies everything seemed to move in slow motion, I didn’t realise from the shock that I had been shot.
“I turned around to him and felt the warm blood trickling down my shirt, I felt my blood pumping out, I yelled ‘You really shot me in the head, I’m going to die’.
“I fell and cut my leg on the vent, my daughter came out, he was cussing at me like I did something wrong.
“My little girl saw him like a father, she was there yelling ‘No, don’t hurt mommy, stop hurting my mommy’, when he looked at her it was like he woke up.
“He snapped out of whatever he was in, looked at me, panicking and pulled the gun up in line with her, I stood between them.
“I told him he could have anything he wanted but that he needed to get me help because I would die otherwise. He turned around and left, I was covered in blood as he drove away.”
The expectant mum who was due to deliver Nelson’s child in just over three months’ time, knew if she didn’t stay calm she would die ‘within minutes’ and feared for her unborn child.
In hospital she was put into a medically induced coma, working to save her life and to begin initial efforts to repair her shattered jaw.
Roxie said: “My mouth was wired for just over six weeks and I had the piece of bone pushed up inside my cheek.
“It was one big open spot, I had no bone or teeth on that side of my face, oral surgeons did a bone graft, it was difficult and made my face swell massively.
“It was huge, it had swollen three times in size, my eyes had swelled shut and tongue enlarged, it was extreme.”
Roxie would go onto give birth to her child in the August of 2016, but then had to delay further surgery due to the trauma of the attack and labour.
She would go to have four further surgeries in a desperate bid to repair the damage to her shoulder, as well as damage to her face.
The gunshot wound had destroyed the nerves, bone, teeth, gum and a large part of her mouth.
Roxie said: “When I was shot it went through the left jaw, then came out on the right side of my neck.
“My right shoulder had the other shot and that broke my clavicle, scapula and damaged my lung, I lost half of my body’s blood from the attack.
“Due to this, my face is numb to touch but not pain from my lower lip down. I cannot feel my bottom teeth and lip which makes it difficult to talk and eat
“I just want to be able to get the surgeries I need to be out of the constant pain, so I can have my life back.”
On Monday 2nd April, Donald Lee Nelson, 43, of Dry Fork, pleaded guilty to malicious assault and wanton endangerment involving a firearm at Randolph County Circuit Court.
He is yet to be sentenced but could expect a prison sentence of 15 years.
Now Roxie is speaking out in the hopes of fundraising for future surgeries and to highlight the long-lasting damage that can be caused by gun violence.
Roxie said: “I do think he tried to kill me, if you hold a gun to someone’s head and pulled the trigger, I don’t think it was an accident.
“This type of violence is happening far too often, I feel like I have a duty to shed much needed light on it.
“The swelling is awful, the pain is somewhat controlled, the damage he did in one second has taken years to put back together and unimaginable pain.
“I will need support both emotionally and financially to be able to get through the next few months and in the next few years while I go through more surgeries without any financial support from him.”
Roxie has been left with permanent agonising pain from her injuries that can worsen whenever she talks or eats.
She has racked-up over half a million dollars of medical bills in a desperate bid to return to normality and still needs two more surgeries.
Roxie said: “Every day I had a series of pills and a range of different medications, I am in pain every day.
“It feels like a tightening burn, the only way to describe it, without medication I would not be able to function with both of my jaws.
“I used to cry every night so that my children couldn’t see me upset, it was difficult to smile with the pain becoming too much.”
To donate to her cause visit: www.gofundme.com/justiceforroxie