A Hardin High School senior, Zeak Dryden, 18, was critically injured on Sunday when he accidentally shot himself in the shoulder while out duck hunting with friends in the Livingston area.
His mother, Shonda, said Zeak was riding on an ATV when he reached into the back of the vehicle to grab his firearm. The trigger mechanism for the shotgun snagged on something and discharged, striking Zeak in his right shoulder.
“It blew out a three-inch piece of his shoulder. Thankfully he didn’t lose his artery,” said his mom. “Zeak has a high tolerance for pain, so he was able to call me afterward. I told his friends to tie a tourniquet on his shoulder until he could reach the hospital. I believe that probably saved him from bleeding out and dying.”
Zeak was taken to an emergency room in Livingston and plans were made to airlift him to Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston. Due to weather conditions, the helicopter was unable to reach Zeak, so he had to be taken by ground ambulance to Houston with his mother by his side.
At Hermann Hospital, Shonda says that she was unable to accompany her son for several hours due to hospital policies that were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Waiting with very little news of her son’s condition was unbearable.
“This morning he called us at 7:30 a.m. His first thoughts were that he didn’t want his father and I to blame his friends, and that wasn’t even a concern for us. Then he didn’t want us to be mad about it, but that wasn’t a concern either. We just wanted to be with him to be sure he was okay,” Shonda said. “He asked me if he was going to lose his arm. I told him, ‘No, baby, just keep doing what they tell you to do and you should be all right.'”
However, Shonda says it is too soon to tell how much damage was inflicted on her son’s shoulder. Doctors have removed all of the pellets, sewn up the wound and have put external pins in place to keep the wound from reopening. He has lost some of the bone in his shoulder, so he will need metal rods and nerve grafts in the future.
Even though he is still a student and lives at home, being that he is an 18-year-old young man presented some challenges for his parents, his mom said.
“They won’t let me in to see him right now,” she said on Monday afternoon. However, by 5 p.m., the situation had changed with the help of the family’s attorney, Emily Kebodeaux Cook.
“Working with the hospital today, we were able to get two hours of visitation today and six hours tomorrow,” Cook said. “He has a surgery on Wednesday. I will keep working with the hospital to see if they can continue making exceptions to the policy.”
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the Dryden family with medical and travel expenses associated with his care. If you want to make a donation, go online to https://www.gofundme.com/f/medical-expenses-for-zeak-dryden.