Va. Tech photo gives hint of hope

By The Associated Press
Published April 17, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- The image hinted at the horror that unfolded: a Virginia Tech student, sprawled and bloody, in the arms of others who struggled to carry him to safety.

The near-death ordeal of senior Kevin Sterne, captured in that photograph that played on newspaper front pages across the country, also reflects the resiliency and hope emerging from the nation's deadliest campus shooting rampage.

Sterne was among the dozens of students shot in Norris Hall classrooms Monday. Police on Tuesday identified Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior English major, as the shooter in the massacre that left 33 people dead, including himself.

He was in stable condition Tuesday, and doctors credited his quick thinking.

Doctors said Sterne is a former Eagle Scout who kept enough cool to fashion a tourniquet from an electrical cord after a bullet tore a inch-long gash through the femoral artery of his right leg.

"The patient that I took care of was an incredible guy," said Dr. David Stoeckle, chief of surgery at Montgomery Regional Hospital. "He was bleeding significantly ... he knew he was bleeding to death."

Emergency workers later applied a second tourniquet to the leg before racing him to the hospital for immediate surgery, Stoeckle said. The surgeon did not identify Sterne by name, but his parents told reporters Tuesday their 6-foot-2 son was the student in the photograph.

Sterne still has a bullet fragment in his right femur, and doctors haven't determined whether they need to remove it, his parents said.