Little Kimberly Williams began her long, painful recovery yesterday as she underwent the first operation necessary to repair the damage done by a stray large-caliber bullet that ripped through her face.
The 2-year-old girl was sitting with her mother on the steps of their East Baltimore rowhouse, enjoying a balmy Tuesday afternoon, when gunfire erupted at the end of the block. One bullet struck Kimberly behind her left ear, breaking her jaw and traveling through her front teeth and upper lip.
Police charged Enrique Montel Parker, 22, of the 2800 block of Hillsdale Ave., with the shooting.
Kimberly was in critical but stable condition at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center yesterday. Had the bullet passed through her in a straight line instead of altering its course after striking bone, it might have severed her spinal cord or brain stem.
"She is incredibly lucky to have survived," said Dr. Charles Paidas, co-director of the trauma team.
During yesterday's surgery, doctors removed damaged bone and tissue. The greatest concern now is for infection and possible nerve damage, said Dr. Paidas.
Doctors hope she can start being fed by tube by tomorrow.
Dr. Paidas said that in the past three weeks he's seen three child gunshot victims in the emergency room.