FAYETTEVILLE. Ark. (KFSM) — Just six weeks after being shot in the face, one Fayetteville man shared his story of recovery and how he used this experience to turn his life around.
On February 27, 2019, Tyler Yeakley was shot in the head by Lee Massey at an apartment complex in Fayetteville. The bullet entered through his eye and lodged into his spine where it still sits today.
Doctors told Yeakley he would never walk again and that the bullet would need to remain in his back because removing it could leave him paralyzed.
Yeakley said the last thing he remembers from the day he was shot was his girlfriend holding him.
"She held my head up to keep me from choking on the blood and they said if she wouldn't have done that I would have died," Yeakley said.
Yeakley said before the shooting he had been living a life of addiction and crime. He said he had completely distanced himself from the ones who love him the most.
Amanda Eldridge is Yeakley's older sister and said the call following the shooting was one she and the rest of their family had always dreaded.
"This has always been a huge fear, you know that we would have to bury him one day because of the lifestyle that he was living," Eldridge said. "Whenever we got this call our hearts just broke and we thought this was it you know. This is the day. This is the call."
Yeakley said before the shooting he had been down a long road of mistakes and wrong decisions. The moment Yeakley woke up he said he realized the life he had been missing out on.
"It breaks my heart that I wasted so many years not caring and usually when you do that to somebody they aren't around when you need them, and they were here for me," Yeakley said.
Yeakley can now walk, talk and feed himself on his own. He said his recovery has been miraculous and doctors said he healed faster than anyone else with similar wounds.
Yeakley said what he is most happy about is the fact that he is now sober.
"I spent a lot of time in jail and prison," Yeakley said. "When I woke up it was like everything I wanted was finally there in front of me. I will never go back to it."
Yeakley said he plans to share his story with others who might also be struggling through life like he once was.
"If I could change my past I would, but as far as the shooting I'm not happy it happened, but it saved my life really," Yeakley said. "I'm just someone that wants everyone else to know that life is worth living peacefully and sober."
His family said they are all thankful to be together again.
"I feel like we are whole again for once," Eldridge said. "You know as bad as this situation was it has made us whole again."
Yeakley and his family recently went to a local jail to share his testimony and inspire others with his story of recovery. He plans to continue to give hope to those who might have lost it during life experiences like his.