ATHENS, Ga. - Seven months after he was critically injured by an armed robbery suspect, a University of Georgia student spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal and his recovery.
"[I'm] definitely blessed and lucky," said Tate Prezzano.
According to Athens-Clarke County Police, Prezzano was waiting at a bus stop on Milledge Avenue at around 7:15 a.m. April 22 when the robber shot him three times. Prezzano was struck in the shoulder, the neck and the back of the head.
"I did see several cars driving by and just thinking like, 'someone's gotta stop. Someone's gotta see this.' And actually I saw my bus drive by," Prezzano recalled.
Minutes later, Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital ICU Manager Phil Haymour was on his way to work when spotted Prezzano bleeding on the sidewalk.
"I saw him laying there in a pool of blood and no hesitation here. My son is going to UGA, about his age. As far as I'm concerned my son was laying on the sidewalk and I had to do something," said Haymour.
He worked to control Prezzano's bleeding until an ambulance could arrive.
Doctors said a bullet fragment stopped just one millimeter shy of the UGA lacrosse player's spine.
"A millimeter is just so, so small," said Prezzano.
Prezzano spent his summer undergoing physical and occupational therapy and miraculously, returned to class at UGA in August with more than a full course load.
Wednesday, he and his father, Dobbin Prezzano, announced the creation of the TateTough Foundation. The organization is their way of making something good out of the tragedy.
The foundation will create two scholarships in Tate Prezzano's name--one for a UGA lacrosse player and another for a student-athlete at Cambridge High School, where Prezzano attended.
They also plan to use the foundation to promote increased safety and awareness on college campuses.
"The University of Georgia is an extremely safe campus and we're blessed to be here, but again it can happen anywhere, anytime," said Prezzano.