Last March, 19-year-old Tyler Oatts, of Sheridan, Wyoming was on his way with two friends to the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains to shoot prairie dogs. As they were getting ready to leave, Tyler decided to do some target practicing. He set up a can, stepped back and fired his .22 caliber handgun. The bullet ricocheted straight back and hit Tyler in the neck, severing his carotid artery and fracturing two vertebrae below his skull.
Miraculously, Tyler survived his injury, despite losing a massive amount of blood. Following surgery, Tyler was bedridden for two months. He wore a neck brace for four months and his weight dropped from 180 pounds to 140. A year later he still has an 11-inch scar across his neck and his right eyelid continues to droop. He also has an 8-inch scar on his thigh from where surgeons took a piece of femoral artery to repair the damaged artery in his neck. His shoulder is still numb and bullet fragments remain in his neck.
Tyler hopes to return to college in the fall. "I stopped all of my bad habits," he said. "I live life for everyone else, not just for myself."