Kalamazoo Victim, 14, A “Strong-Willed” Survivor

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Kopf Family

KALAMAZOO, Michigan- Abigail Kopf, a “strong-willed” 14-year-old, is on a ventilator in critical condition after being wounded in the Kalamazoo shooting attacks, her parents and doctor say.

Kopf’s parents, Gene and Vicki Kopf, held a news conference Monday night along with Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies of Bronson Children’s Hospital. Lane-Davies said that although Abigail remains critically ill, “we are encouraged by her relative stability over the last several days and her responsiveness to her parents and our team.”

Authorities originally believed Abigail was among those killed in the attacks. Michigan State Police say she was a passenger in a car Mary Jo Nye was driving. Vicki Kopf said Barbara Hawthorne, another passenger in the car who was killed, was a grandmother figure to Abigail, whose parents said the pair were regularly hanging out together.

Lane-Davies said Abigail’s heart beat stopped during attempts to save her life, but it was restored. An organ donation service was contacted with her parents’ permission, though she was never declared medically brain dead, he said.

Her parents were making arrangements to donate her organs when the girl squeezed her mother’s hand, State Police Lt. Dale Hinz said, relaying a story Vicki Kopf told him.

Kopf told CBS affiliate WWMT the sensation of having her hand squeezed was “breathtaking.”

“They then called in the doctor and he asked her a question and wanted a thumbs-up in response,” Hinz said. “And she gave him two thumbs up. It’s a glimmer of hope in this otherwise tragic situation.”

Gene Kopf said in a prepared statement that Abigail is “strong-willed and loves to have fun.”

She is athletic and loves musicals and animals, especially sharks and wolves, he said.

Abigail “has a long road ahead” but is fighting for her life, her father said.

The night of the shooting, Abigail had attended a performance with Hawthorne and friends of Hawthorne’s, Gene Kopf said.

In a statement, Abigal’s parents said:”We have been by Abigail’s bedside since this happened. She remains in critical condition fighting for her life, but as we mentioned, she is strong-willed and she is fighting.”