A woman struck by gunfire in her vehicle in North Raleigh on July 4 likely was shot with a rifle. Her daughter says the family has been told the bullet came from a military-style weapon.
The woman, Lenke Gerzsenyl, 65, was seriously injured and is only alive because of the quick work of emergency medical crews who responded to the scene and at the hospital, her daughter says.
The daughter, Eleanor Padilla of Raleigh, said Gerzsenyl was making a grocery store run to shop for a Fourth of July cookout she had planned that evening with family. Gerzsenyl was driving south on Town and Country Road just after 6 p.m. toward Kingsley Road, when she heard a noise, her daughter said.
Within a few seconds, Padilla said, her mother turned onto Kingsley and pulled into the driveway of a home because she thought her car was malfunctioning.
“That’s when she saw there was blood everywhere,” and called 911, Padilla said.
A fire truck from a nearby station responded immediately, Padilla said, and an emergency responder quickly applied a tourniquet to Gerzsenyl’s leg. By the time she arrived by ambulance at WakeMed Hospital, Gerzsenyl could not move her foot or wiggle her toes. Padilla said doctors have told the family that the tourniquet saved Gerzsenyl’s life.
“Five more minutes and she would have bled out,” Padilla said doctors told her.
Doctors then had to work quickly to try to save Gerzsenyl’s leg.
“They thought she was going to lose her leg,” Padilla said. In the emergency department, “Doctors were running around everywhere, and they kept saying, ‘We’ve never seen this type of wound.’ ”
Padilla said it appeared that the large-caliber bullet struck the driver’s door from an angle somewhere behind the car. It ripped through the seat, into the back of Gerzsenyl’s thigh and down into her calf. In the process, Padilla said, it struck an artery, causing massive blood loss.
So far, Padilla said, her mother has required five blood transfusions. She has had surgery to remove the bullet and to repair the artery to restore blood flow to her leg. She remains in the hospital, where she will need at least one more surgery, her daughter said.
Gerzsenyl is an avid runner, Padilla said — three to four miles a day — but doctors can’t say whether she will ever be able to run again, or even regain full use of her injured leg.
Padilla said the family wants people to know what happened to Gerzsenyl because, “Whoever did this may not even know they hit someone. Maybe they were just shooting out in the woods, thinking, 'There are no houses out here, this won’t bother anyone, I’m just going to shoot at a target,’ or whatever. And then one of [the rounds] got away, and somebody’s life is altered forever. A whole family’s life is altered forever.
“It’s irresponsible. People need to understand you don’t shoot that type of weapon in the woods.”
The area where the shooting happened is between Creedmoor and Lead Mine roads, north of Crabtree Valley Mall. Padilla said there are houses nearby, and also woods.
The incident is reminiscent of one in 1987 when a 16-year-old girl swimming in the wave pool at Carowinds amusement park was struck by a round from an AK-47-style weapon. The bullet killed her and injured another girl swimming 50-75 feet away. Investigators later charged five people who had been shooting a rifle at a target a half-mile away.
Police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said the North Raleigh shooting remains under investigation, and could not provide additional details.