Eighteen months ago, during a New Year’s Eve celebration in Hillsborough County, Florida, 14-year-old Diego Duran took a stray bullet in the head.
Miraculously, he survived.
In a recent interview with a local ABC News affiliate, he recalled the incident.
“I just remember watching fireworks with my family, and then that was it,” Duran said. The bullet, part of celebratory gunfire, hit him on the top of the head and penetrated his skull.
The event dramatically changed his life.
“It’s like I have to be cautious of my head. I have a shunt, it’s a tube that goes all the way down to my stomach and it drains fluids,” he explained.
Now, along with the help of his mother, Sandy, he is hoping to save lives and to prevent what happened to him from happening to other people.
To accomplish this goal, Duran formed the ‘Bullet-Free Sky’ campaign, a non-profit advocacy group that works to inform the public of the dangers of celebratory gunfire and to spread the message: ‘Stray bullets take lives.’
Thus far, Sandy Duran has said the group has had a positive impact and has gotten at least one gun owner to rethink the way he commemorates the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve.
“We know that we have changed his mind,” Sandy Duran said of the gun owner. “He saw his x-rays. He met him [Duran] in person. And he’s not going to practice anymore,” Sandy told TampaBay.com.
Sandy Duran made it clear that Bullet-Free Sky is not anti-gun, just pro-common sense and safety.
“A lot of the things we hear are ‘my grandfather used to do it,’ or ‘my uncle did it,’ ” she said. “We want people to know that when they pull that trigger, they can take someone’s life.”
On Wednesday, the group held a fundraiser at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin, Florida, to raise money to continue to get the word out.
“We hope that we can get the support from our community to keep raising awareness,” Sandy said.
To donate to the cause visit bulletfreesky.com or click here.
It probably goes without saying, but be safe this 4th of July. No celebratory gunfire. Have fun, but keep the sky bullet-free — for Duran’s sake.