Vicki Gardner, the Virginia woman being interviewed when a gunman opened fire and killed a local TV reporter and cameraman last month, told Fox News this week that she played dead
to try and escape a similar fate.
Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was being interviewed by WDBJ-TV's Alison Parker the morning of Aug. 26 when a man later discovered to be a disgruntled former station employee fired on them and cameraman Adam Ward.
"Then it was just very, very fast," Gardner told Fox's Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday. "And I saw movement. And then gunfire. Lots and lots of gunfire . . . I just fell to the ground as though I had been hit and went into fetal position. He did come back up and shot me in the back."
Parker and Ward died from their wounds, while Gardner was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. The suspect, who authorities identified as former WDBJ-TV reporter Vester Flanagan, 41, fled and later committed suicide after he was chased by law enforcement, according to CNN.
"My heart just goes out to Alison and Adam," Gardner told Fox News. "Why save me and take them? But obviously, there's a purpose. And by golly, I will fulfill it."
Gardner's husband Tim, who watched the events unfold live on television, told Fox News that he was relieved once he heard his wife's voice on a cell phone call.
"I knew exactly what had happened," Tim Gardner said. "I heard the gunshots and saw the expression on her face. And then the next 15 minutes was a really tough 15 minutes."
"I have to tell you, those are some of the best words I've ever heard," he continued. "She said that she was alive, she didn't know why, and that she loved me."
The Gardners posted on Facebook Sept. 9
that they plan to create a memorial dedicated to Parker and Ward.
"Vicki is sure there must be a reason why her life has been spared, and desires to use this blessing to more closely connect our communities around the lake and to share resources with one objective in mind: How to make the future of SML even better," the Facebook post read.
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