ATLANTA — Ashlyn Crouch, 17, knows how close she came to losing her young life after she was shot during a road rage incident.
“The doctor was telling me one centimeter to the right and I would have been gone,” she said.
The Carrollton High School student told Channel 2′s Tom Jones that she believes a higher power kept the bullet from hitting her vital organs.
“I thank God every day that he protected me,” Crouch said.
Jones was at Grady Memorial Hospital after Crouch was released Friday evening. She still has bandages covering her wounds as she recovers from a gunshot to the head.
The bullet first hit her near her left ear. Then it came out near her left eye.
“It’s the exit wound. They haven’t stitched it up yet,” the teen explained why she still needed the heavy gauze.
She is anxious to get home and reconnect with her friends. Many were concerned she was on her deathbed.
“They think the bullet went right here,” Crouch said, pointing to her forehead.
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It was Sunday, May 1 when Ashlyn could have taken her last breath. She, her boyfriend and two other friends traveled on Interstate 20 eastbound from Carroll County just after 4 p.m.
“My boyfriend was driving. We were going to a baby shower,” she said.
That’s when she said they noticed a car traveling at excessive speeds pull up behind them. Her boyfriend changed lanes. The car switched lanes too and Crouch said it almost hit them.
“She comes up beside us and she curses us out. Rolls the window down. Shooting the bird. She had her little kids in the back shooting birds,” Crouch said.
That’s when Ashlyn admits she made what could have been a fatal mistake.
“So I shoot the bird back and then the whole time she is following us to Chapel Hill,” Crouch said.
Douglasville police said Brittney Griffith, 30, followed the teens some 10 to 15 miles to the Chapel Hill Road exit. Crouch said her friends in the car recorded video of Griffith pointing a gun out the window at them.
“And they were like, ‘Oh no! No! Duck! Duck! Duck!’ We thought it was just her hand, but it was a gun,” Crouch said.
Crouch said as Griffith exited on Chapel Hill, that’s when she pulled the trigger.
At first, she had no idea she was hit.
“The bullet was hot. I couldn’t really feel the pain. I was just in shock. Like, ‘Wow. I got shot,’” Crouch said.
The bullet didn’t just threaten her life. She said her boyfriend could have been seriously hurt.
“The bullet went straight through me and hit my boyfriend,” Crouch said.
She said the bullet actually went through his hat, barely missing his head. He wasn’t seriously injured.
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Crouch said her best friend was frantic after noticing blood coming from her head.
“It caused my best friend trauma because she was crying. Everybody was surrounding me, and I was just holding my head,” Crouch said.
Police said the video the teens recorded was pivotal in identifying the shooter. Officers say they posted a screenshot of the video on social media, and they immediately received several responses.
That Sunday night, police said Griffith turned herself in. Police said she confessed and told them she tossed the weapon in the Chattahoochee River.
Officers also said Griffith had her three kids, ages 4 to 9, in the car with her.
Then there was the revelation that shocked even the Magistrate Court judge who presided over Griffith’s Ffirst Appearance hearing.
Police said Griffith went to get her nails done immediately after shooting Crouch. The judge asked her what in the world was she thinking. Griffith had no response.
Crouch wonders if the shooter thought the bullet missed its target.
“I don’t know if she thinks it hit me. That’s why she got her nails done,” Crouch said.
Griffith is now being held without bond. She faces four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of first-degree child cruelty and possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.
Prosecutors said in court there could be more charges.
Meanwhile, Crouch continues to recover. Her mother, Dianna Crouch, said she will need 24-hour care.
“She’s not allowed to walk by herself. Go to the bathroom by herself. She’s going to have to have a lot of aftercare,” Dianna Crouch said.
The mother said she will be off work another two months to care for her daughter. She said that’s going to place a financial strain on them. Still, she is praying for Griffith.
“Nobody wants to see their child hurt by another person. And I pray for that lady. I really do. Cause not only is my daughter hurt but her children are hurt,” Dianna Crouch said.
Prosecutors said in court they would be reaching out to state children protective services to look into this incident.
Ashlyn Crouch said she has learned a valuable lesson about life and about road rage.
“When somebody does that to you (making hand gestures) just keep your window up and keep going. Just keep everything to myself, and just be the nonchalant person and humble yourself,” Ashlyn Crouch said.
Ashlyn Crouch said she has so much to live for. She continually thanked God for keeping her here.
“My life flashed before my eyes,” Ashlyn Crouch said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Ashlyn and her family with expenses incurred as a result of this incident.
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