Ryland Ward rode in the firetruck from University Medical Center in San Antonio 30 miles (48 kilometers) to his home in Sutherland Springs, passing by the scene of the shooting that left more than two dozen worshippers at the First Baptist Church dead and about 20 others wounded. The attacker, Devin Patrick Kelley, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ryland was shot five times. His stepmother, Joann Ward, and his two sisters, 5-year-old Brooke Ward and 7-year-old Emily Garza, were killed in the shooting. The gunman killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26 because one of the victims was pregnant.
“Many of us at University Health System who have been touched by the strength and spirit of Ryland and the other Sutherland Springs patients celebrate this milestone with them and their families,” said hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Allen.
Patrol cars and other firetrucks formed a procession that escorted Ward back to the community of about 420 residents. Motorists pulled to the side of the road into town, and some stepped from their vehicles and waved at the child.
The truck then carried the child past a sheriff’s barricade to his house, which was kept off-limits to the public.
UHS officials Thursday declined to provide details on Ryland’s current medical condition. However, he has been through a lot, his great uncle said last month.
Earl McMahan told KSAT-TV before the holidays that the boy has had several surgeries and that doctors were still treating his arm, leg and internal organs.
Other victims hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio or Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville were previously discharged.