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'I've decided to rebloom': Deserae Turner shares message of resilience

Deserae Turner shares her story of resilience with Utah State University students in Logan on Monday in recognition of World Mental Health Day.

Deserae Turner shares her story of resilience with Utah State University students in Logan on Monday in recognition of World Mental Health Day. (Brian Champagne)


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LOGAN — The survival of Deserae Turner, who was shot in the head and left to die at 14 years old, is often considered a miracle. Now five years later, the young woman is sharing that despite being "cut down," she has decided to "rebloom."

Turner shared her story with an audience of Utah State University students and faculty on Monday, in recognition of World Mental Health Day. Following her recovery process, the young girl has often spoken of gratitude and faith.

"I am so thankful to be here today, to be alive," she told members of the media at the time of her release from the hospital. "I told my dad that I am tougher than a bullet."

In February 2017, Turner and some friends met in a dry canal in Smithfield. It was in that canal that two 16-year-old boys shot her at close range in the back of the head and left her to die.

The young girl spent approximately eight hours alone in the canal before being discovered by a search party. The cold temperatures that night prevented her from bleeding out in what she called "a miracle."

While Turner survived, the shooting left her with significant disabilities.

The bullet caused paralysis on the left side of her body, problems seeing and walking, and forced the teen to relearn many basic skills. Turner was also left with emotional and mental injuries. Since the shooting, she's had over 20 different surgeries — 14 of them being brain surgeries.

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"I was in pain all the time. I wish I had died. I wish I could escape the reality that a friend tried to kill me and that this is my life," Turner said Monday. "I wish they had killed me correctly. ... What they did to me was torture. They put me in hell just on the verge of death but never actually dying."

The image of Turner standing on stage Monday stood in deep contrast to the pictures displayed behind her on a screen depicting her initial recovery.

Now a high school graduate, 4-H Utah state champion, and a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Turner asked the question likely on the audience's mind. What changed?

"I found what makes me happy and I do it all the time," she said. "If I could tell you guys anything, I would tell you to find what makes you happy and do it often."

Among those things that make her happy is her time as a missionary, service, her service dog Snoopy and her love of gardening.


I was a beautiful flower and then I was cut down. But I've decided to rebloom and I am bigger and brighter than ever before.

–Deserae Turner


"With flowers I have found many lessons," Turner said. "Flowers are very, very resilient. They can withstand all types of storms, just like we as people can. We can withstand all types of storms that come into our lives. And with flowers, they will rebloom — whether it's in a few weeks or whether it's next year," she said.

"I was a beautiful flower and then I was cut down. But I've decided to rebloom and I am bigger and brighter than ever before."

But what does reblooming look like? For now, Turner said she is living minute by minute but does have plans for the future. She hopes to turn her flower farm into a business, begin breeding dogs and get married.

Acknowledging that her hardships continue day to day, she offered a final message to the audience on continuing forward.

"I have learned that hard times come to everyone and there are all different types of challenges in this world," Turner said. "But I know and have learned that we are stronger than we look. We can withstand and carry on."

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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