Town turns out to support shooting victim
PLANKINTON -- The "Welcome Home, Nick," banner over the food line at the Commerce Street Grille & Bar in Plankinton said it all.
"It's kind of cool to see how many people will come out to support you," said Nick Lawson, 17, who is still recovering after being accidentally shot in the chest June 22 by long-time friend Logan Evans, also of Plankinton.
Lawson was center of attention Saturday as area residents crowded about and wished him well during a benefit meal and auction to raise money to defray medical expenses.
"It's been a great turnout for a good cause," said restaurant owner Angela Bosworth, who estimated at least 250 supporters took part in the event.
All proceeds will go pay off the Lawson family's medical and associated bills, said Jan Kristensen who helped to organize the event. A final tally of funds won't be available for a few days, she said.
Whatever the amount is, the Lawson family will be grateful, said Nick's mother Mary Lawson.
"It's been a great turnout -- just overwhelming," she said. "Its been fabulous around here. It's just been awesome what the town has been doing for Nick and for our family."
Nick is the fourth of five sons.
Mary Lawson said she has remained in touch with the family of Logan Evans, who is accused of shooting Nick June 22 while he and several friends were driving on Interstate 90 near Alexandria.
According to official reports, Evans had removed the magazine from the 9 mm handgun he had received as a gift, and, thinking the gun was empty, jokingly pointed it at Lawson and pulled the trigger, shooting him in the chest.
Evans pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and reckless discharge of a weapon earlier this month and is scheduled to stand trial in October.
Lawson, now 17, spent three weeks at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls recovering from the shooting. He was released a few days before his July 18 birthday.
Evans wasn't there on Saturday. He is prohibited from contact with Lawson as a condition of his bail.
Mary Lawson said she has used text messages to keep Evans' family updated on Nick's recovery.
She credits quick-acting physicians with saving her son's life. He was flown to Sioux Falls immediately after Avera Queen of Peace doctors reviewed his x-rays and determined how serious his injuries were, she said.
"I'm just glad he's home and doing good," she said.
Lawson, who was all smiles on Saturday, will start his senior year at Plankinton High School in a week, but he will have to postpone his athletic plans. Doctors say recovery will take at least two months.
"I'm able to walk around, but not for very long," he said. "If I go too long I get tired and I have to sit down," he said.
"He won't be able to play football, but we're hoping for basketball," said his mother.
The question that remains is "Why?"
"That's always the question for everybody," she said. " 'Why did this have to happen?' "
She says both families are doing the best they can to get get through the ordeals they've been forced to endure.
"I haven't talked to them, but I know it's tough for them, too," she said. "His mother wants to get together and talk, but we haven't figured out a day yet."
When it comes to firearms, Nick has a few simple guidelines.
"Just leave them at home -- don't take them along when you're out with friends at a get-together -- and don't point them at people."