MIAMI – Gunshot wounds to the head are often deadly. Nine-year-old Darnal Mundy II has a powerful story of survival.
Darnal was 3 years old when he accidentally shot himself in the head on Aug. 4, 2015, in Miami’s Little River neighborhood. It was just before 6 a.m. and his parents were sleeping. He climbed up a chair to get to a dresser’s top drawer in his parents’ bedroom.
The loaded gun was in the same drawer where Darnal knew they kept an iPad. They woke up to a single gunshot and found Darnal on the floor crying. His father picked him up and held him while his mother, Dorphius Jean, drove to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Pediatric neurosurgeons at the Holtz Children’s Hospital found the bullet had hit the center of his head and exited in the back left side. To deal with the swelling in the brain, they temporarily removed a piece of his skull from the left side of his head.
“He was told he was not going to be able to walk, talk, and look at him now, he is talking, walking,” Jean said on Monday with Darnal standing by her side on stage in front of a crowd of community leaders outside of the Holtz Children’s Hospital.
Darnal was in a coma for three weeks before he was transferred to the care of rehabilitation doctors and therapists. He made a rare recovery and was released from Holtz Children’s Hospital just in time to celebrate his fourth birthday on Nov. 14, 2015.
Nearly six years after the shooting, he stood on stage in the courtyard of the hospital where doctors saved his life. He was the star of an event to mark the Asking Saves Kids Day, also known as ASK Day, an initiative that the American Academy of Pediatrics began about a year after Darnal got shot.
“A question as simple as ‘Is there an unlocked gun in your house?’ can indeed save your child’s life,” said Dr. Alana Arnold, of Jackson North Medical Center’s pediatric emergency department. “Just over one-third of all firearm injuries seen in the emergency department were in fact unintentional ... I would love these types of injuries be avoided whenever possible.”
According to a 2020 Gallup survey, 44% of Americans have at least one gun at home, and 48% of those living in a household with a gun report having a child under the age of 18. Arnold and Dr. Hector Chavez, of Holtz Children’s Hospital’s pediatric emergency department, are both investigators for the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami, a prevention program.
“I know talking about firearms can be a difficult and sensitive topic, but it’s a discussion that can save lives,” said Carlos Migoya, the chief executive officers of the Jackson Health System.
The chief executive officers of the Holtz Children’s Hospital, and The Children’s Trust; Jose “Pepe” Diaz, the Miami-Dade County Commission chairman; and Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami Dade County Public Schools, were also in attendance. They all want parents to remember that they need to keep their guns locked, unloaded, and stored away from children who will spend more time playing at home this summer.