PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Jean Kropid saw her friend take a bullet to the chest. "She said 'I'm hit... oh, it hurts', and she just slithered down," said Kropid, who was with Ulla White, 64, and other friends on a Fourth of July fireworks cruise on the Intracoastal waterway on Wednesday night.
The display near West Palm Beach's waterfront had just come to a close. That is when Kropid said the bullet fell from the sky. "I said 'You've been shot,' and the pain just registered on her face," said Kropid. "You could see it."
On board the Majestic Princess II was a first mate who also happens to be a registered nurse. The boat captain, Ken Gibson, said he was at the wheel when he got word about what was happening on the top deck. Gibson said his employees were already tending to White. "Nobody expects somebody to be shot on a boat, of course," said Gibson.
Gibson handed control over to another of his mates and ran upstairs to see White. He described her wound. "It looked like about the size of my pinky, with a little flap of skin," he said.
The boat, at that point, was still in the middle of the Intracoastal just north of the Flagler Memorial Bridge. Dodging heavy boat traffic, Gibson navigated north to the Riviera Beach Marina. He said that was the quickest way to get White to shore and on her way to the hospital.
White's friends and family are praying for a full recovery and wondering who fired the shot that landed right in the middle of her Independence Day fun. "He changed people's lives," said Kropid. "He will never know or she will never know all for the sake of a good time... having fun on Fourth of July?," she asked.
On Thursday night, staff at St. Mary's Medical Center said White was listed in good condition. Friends say she is now being looked after by her daughter who flew in from California after learning what had happened.