Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner, John Zsiray

Teen Shot And Left For Dead Makes Incredible Comeback As Homecoming Queen

Ryan Ford 5 Oct 2019

Two years ago, Deserae Turner's life turned around and very nearly ended after a brutal, senseless attack. Now, she's homecoming queen.

When she was 15, Deserae was lured out to a canal by a corn field by someone she thought was her friend.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

The Utah teen remembers little of that night. "My first memory is my dad coming and holding me when I woke up in a mysterious place," she told KSTU.

"He said, 'Des I want you to know that you're safe but you've been shot and you're in the hospital.' My big question was who. Who would do this? And I finally found out later down the road and it was kind of a shock to me. I was like wow, I thought we were friends."

Load Comments

Deserae later discovered that her supposed friend, Colter Peterson, had shot her in the back of the head and left her for dead in a canal.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

Peterson and his friend, Jayzon Decker told her a story about searching for a lost ring. According to prosecutors, the pair had originally planned to slit her throat with knives.

Instead, as she knelt down to search for the ring, Decker texted Peterson "let's get this done, bro" and Peterson shot her.

Load Comments

Peterson and Decker then rifled through her backpack, taking her electronics and cash, leaving Deserae for dead.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

Deserae lay there, cold and alone, for eight hours before two women searching for her after she'd been reported missing found her, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Load Comments

Even after her attackers were sentenced, Deserae still isn't sure why she was targeted.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

Peterson expressed remorse for his attack, breaking down in sobs in the courtroom at his sentencing after pleading guilty to aggravated attempted murder and second-degree-felony robbery.

Decker, meanwhile, cast as the "mastermind" in the attack, expressed no remorse. Deserae said he "didn't even look at me" at the sentencing hearing. "He had no empathy and I didn't care. It was like, 'screw you' kind of thing."

Both boys received 15-years-to-life in prison for the attack.

Load Comments

Deserae spent nine weeks in the hospital before returning home.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

She had dreamed of a career in nursing and was an accomplished equestrian, but those days are behind her now.

"I did sit down in my room and just cry because it was a really sunny day and I wanted to go out and ride but I couldn't," she told KSTU.

Load Comments

Two years later, Deserae still suffers from the effects of the shooting.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

With the bullet still lodged in the right side of her brain, Deserae has trouble using the left side of her body, especially her arm, her leg, and her eye.

She's had 10 brain surgeries and extensive physical therapy, and has all the scars to prove it, which she loves to show off.

Load Comments

Treatments are ongoing.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

There's a routine to it, like weekly chiropractic adjustments, after which she'll spend an hour in a hyperbaric chamber, which helps her brain heal.

To improve her balance, she'll spend time standing on a swing. To help her eyesight, she plays catch with her sister.

Despite all she's been through, she doesn't complain much. "I'm not a complainer, I don't like complaining," she says.

Load Comments

After making an incredible comeback, Deserae was the obvious choice for homecoming queen.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner

And to her, it means the world.

"'I was just a homecoming queen, there’s nothing special about that,'" Deserae says she sometimes thinks, "but if you think about what I’ve been through, yes — it’s very special. It is very awesome."

Load Comments

The community donated to help with things like hair and a dress to make the experience as amazing as possible for Deserae.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner, John Zsiray

The donations just started pouring in after Deserae's mom, April, shared the news on Facebook. "When people were volunteering, it was happy tears," April said. "And again when people were cheering for her, it was happy tears again."

"It just gives you that comfort and love that, yes, I am truly loved," Deserae said. "Everybody needs to know that feeling."

Load Comments

And it was indeed a storybook night for Deserae.

Facebook | Praying for Deserae Turner, Robert Scott

At one point, her shoe came off, leading to a fairy tale moment. "The homecoming king got down and put my shoe on and I totally felt like Cinderella. It was a beautiful moment," she said.

Given that she still has two more surgeries planned this year, it's hard to think of anyone more deserving of such a special evening.

h/t: KSTU

Load Comments
Next Article