VIAN, Okla. — After being shot by a hitchhiker in July, two local men are sharing their recovery stories and how their recoveries have gone.
After spending more than a month in the hospital, Derek Riggs,39, and Jake Myers, 32, are back home in Fort Smith and say they are thankful to be alive but are still in shock.
“It’s been hard trying to get used to having the trach in my neck and missing a lot of teeth," said Jake Myers. Myers was shot once in the face and spent a week inside a Little Rock hospital.
"I was shot a total of three times, once in my leg and then twice in my abdomen," said Derek Riggs. Both of the bullets shot into Riggs abdomen hit organs with the exception of his heart.
On July 17, Riggs and Myers decided to help a man who was on Interstate 40 near Vian Oklahoma six weeks ago.
"So we took him down to the Vian exit to the Loves gas station or Jake brought him a gas can. Brought him fuel, brought him water," said Derek Riggs.
The men say that after they got gas for the man and tried dropping him off at his car along the side of the road, the man began to question them and things took a turn.
"He ended up shooting us. Everything was normal up until that point," Derek Riggs.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation later identified the shooter as Lee King, who investigators also connected to a carjacking in Oklahoma the previous day.
"It’s really unbelievable that somebody could try to help a fellow human being out in a situation and they end up going through what we’ve been through the past couple of months," said Derek Riggs.
U.S. Marshalls arrested King a few days after the Vain shooting in Dallas, but in the meantime, Riggs and Myers say they choose forgiveness.
"I would just make sure that he knew that he is forgiven. But, I’ll never forget that he’s changed our lives forever," said Derek Riggs.
"Realize how frail life really is and how much your life really is touched by God," said Jake Myers.
The two say they will rethink giving a hitchhiker a ride in the future, but will still be willing to help anyone in need. The two men also wanted to mention how they have been touched by the support of the community and that it has been much appreciated.
Jake Myers says he is expected to get facial reconstruction surgery by the end of the month. Both men still have medical bills and are asking for donations to their GoFundMe.