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A true shooting star

July 9, 2003

Colquitt County- Eighteen year old Emma Simpson is living proof that miracles do happen.  Simpson is not supposed to be able to hit an orange disc that's cutting thru the air at 110 miles per hour.  Not when a car accident on the way to school one early morning last September cost her 75 percent of her lower back and nearly much more.

"I was scared to death, I didn't know what to do. I tried to get up, I didn't know my back was broke and my mom was going in to panic trying to keep me still and I was scared to death," Emma Simpson said. "For two weeks we didn't know if she was going to live or die," Emma's father Mike Simpson said.

After undergoing an operation that literally rebuilt her back with six steel rods, the fourth ranked junior lady in the world in shotgun shooting, was left wondering if she would ever fire at another clay disc again. "You know I started thinking I said well I could be like this for the rest of my life, not be able to move," Simpson said.

It was then that Emma remembered a promise she had made to an old friend, a friend that unlike herself did not get a second chance to live their dream. "One of my friends on my gun sock is Jim McDuffie, and I lost him and I told him that I was gonna go on and shoot and I was going to prove to him that I could do it," Emma said.

 It has now been ten months since that nearly fatal accident, and Emma is proving just that. Along with three other members of the Colquitt County Shooting Stars, she's preparing for the USA Shooting National Championships, and now she's the one that serves as the inspiration.

"She's a real tough person and one of my best friends," Jim Hancock said. "She is not a quitter. She knows what she wants, she wants that Olympic Gold Medal," Mike said. And whether she gets that medal or not, Emma has already won the biggest prize of them all, a second chance. 

The USA Shooting National Championships take place July 16-19th in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The other Colquitt County Shooting Stars joining Emma on the trip are Jim Hancock, Jay Wingate and Clarke Burroughs. 

Posted at 6:00 pm by kevin.mcdermond@walb.com