After accidentally shooting himself in the chest with a .45 handgun, Danny "D.J." McFarlin is lucky to be alive.
The 20-year-old newlywed is in the Elvis Presley Trauma Center while a bullet remains lodged in his back.
"God has just blessed him," said Karen Nicholson, McFarlin's mother-in-law. "There's really no other explanation for him to still be alive. Most people don't survive being shot with a .45."
McFarlin and his cousin, Jesse Arnold, and Arnold's girlfriend were at Arnold's home on Campground Road in rural Sharp County Nov. 3 preparing to go hunting, said Sharp County Det. John Qualls. McFarlin had been outside shooting his .22 rifle while the couple were inside preparing to leave, he said.
McFarlin came back inside the house and picked up a holster containing a .45 Colt pistol that was lying inside the home, Qualls said.
The gun belonged to Arnold. McFarlin stood in the doorway of the home facing outside when Arnold and his girlfriend heard a gunshot, he said. They assumed McFarlin had shot the gun out the door. They were surprised when they heard McFarlin yell he'd shot himself and saw him fall to the floor, Qualls said.
"D.J. told us he was spinning the gun and it just went off," Nicholson said. "He just didn't check it."
The couple called 9-1-1 at 3:38 p.m. The conscious McFarlin was transported to White River Medical Center in Batesville by Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service. After he was stabilized and underwent a CAT scan, he was air lifted to Memphis.
McFarlin had blood transfusions and underwent surgery Thursday night to mend the damage to his lung, diaphragm and liver caused by the bullet, Nicholson said.
"I guess the bullet just kind of bounced around," she said. "He has damage to his back bone, but he's still able to walk. The doctors said it would do more damage to go in and look for the bullet than just keeping it in there as long as it isn't causing him any more problems."
McFarlin remains in the trauma stepdown unit. He is in stable condition but remains closely watched.
He remains on oxygen to help him ease the pain of breathing and to prevent him from developing pneumonia.
McFarlin is an Evening Shade High School graduate. He and his wife, Angie (Nicholson), were married Sept. 24 by his grandfather, former Sharp County Judge Frank Arnold.
"I told them this was a heck of a honeymoon," Nicholson said.