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THEN & NOW: Woman thankful for care after traumatic shooting

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WASHINGTON—Laura Reeves was standing in the kitchen with her mother, talking on the phone to her husband when a bullet pierced the door leading to the basement, shattering her elbow.

Her mother screamed. Reeves froze for a moment, stunned by her pain. Then Reeves told her mother to say nothing and run.

They headed out the front door of the Spotsylvania County home, scrambling for their lives.

Reeves ran toward the next-door neighbor’s house with her 75-year-old mother—who was scheduled for a double hip replacement—trailing behind.

As Reeves ran, a second bullet from an M1A assault-style rifle pierced her body, this time in the abdomen.

Still, somehow, she kept going, as excruciating pain coursed through her petite frame.

She had reached her neighbor’s house and found someone to call 911 when she heard two more shots.

Instantly, she was certain of what had happened.

“You just know,” Reeves said Monday.

Reeves, now 53, survived a murder–suicide at her home on South McLaws Place the morning of Sept. 17, 2012.

She was shot by her brother, 43-year-old David McVearry Anderson, who was visiting from Huntsville, Ala.

In front of her home, David Anderson had killed their mother, Jean Anderson, before turning the gun on himself.

“He was a coward, I guess,” Reeves said.

She doesn’t know why David Anderson started firing on them with his rifle.

Employed as an engineer, Anderson was visiting his sister to consider relocating to Virginia.

He had no history of mental health problems, she said.

He had never been in trouble with the law. There had been no prior domestic problems at the home near the Chancellorsville Battlefield of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

“To tell you the truth, no answer would be good enough for me,” Reeves said.

“My mother was my best friend and that can never be replaced.”


On Monday, Reeves was one of five trauma patients attending a reunion at George Washington University Hospital, hosted by Dr. Babak Sarani, chief of trauma and acute surgery.

It was a time for the staff who treated the severely injured to see their patients again and a chance for the patients to say “thank you.”

“I’m grateful to Dr. Sarani and his team and everyone who helped me and my family during a really bad time,” Reeves said.

She said she would have lost most of her left arm without the help of orthopedic surgeon David Lutton.

Lutton did reconstructive surgery on the elbow, which has enabled her to maintain function. But the arm isn’t back to normal, forcing Reeves, who was left-handed, to become ambidextrous.

She’s had numerous surgeries to her abdomen and has another one scheduled soon.

Like the other patients honored on Monday, she’s grateful to be alive and functioning again.

She spent two months at the hospital in Northwest Washington, much of the time in an induced coma to ease the process of taking her in and out of surgeries, said her husband, Vance Haney.

As thankful as Reeves is for the trauma center’s help, she is at least as thankful for the aid she received in her hometown.

She said Spotsylvania fire and rescue personnel were at her home “very quickly” after the shooting.

She recalls, she said, because she battled to stay awake throughout the ordeal.

She was talking on the ambulance ride to Mary Washington Hospital, and, once there, provided telephone numbers of people to contact, including her husband, whose phone call had abruptly ended when the gunfire began.

Vance Haney marvels at his wife’s ability to escape their home and at her tenacity to keep going after she was hit a second time.

“I couldn’t have done it,” he said.

She credits God with getting her to the neighbor’s house that horrible day.

“God probably lifted me up and carried me,” she said, her eyes misting. “I’ve always been faithful but it confirmed it for me.”

The person who made the biggest difference, she said, was Dr. Tracy Bilski, the trauma surgeon at Mary Washington Hospital who provided the initial help.

“She saved my life,” Reeves said.

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ABOUT THE SERIES: THEN & NOW  is an occasional update on stories previously featured in The Free Lance–Star.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972