Marshall County HS shooting survivor still recovering, speaks on Florida shooting

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY – News of another school shooting feels personal in our region, especially three weeks and one day after the tragedy at Marshall County High School.

The community lost two teenagers —Preston Cope and Bailey Holt.

Gage Smock was shot in the face in that shooting. I’m happy to report, he’s doing well. Despite his mouth still being wired shut, he’s returned to work. He still isn’t able to return to school. With the threat of flu so prevalent, he says, his doctors recommend he go back once his wires are cut.

“It feels good to get back out and be with everybody, see my friends and co-workers again,” Smock says. He credits his positive attitude to the fact that he can work, something he doesn’t take for granted. “If you’re working, you’re in good health,” he says.

He works at J-Mack BBQ in Gilbertsville, Kentucky. We found him preparing meals he couldn’t eat if he wanted to. Because he’s been eating through a straw over the past three weeks, he says he’s lost 20 pounds.

While he’s recovering physically, emotionally Gage is battling with the knowledge that he won’t be able to walk the halls of his school with his girlfriend, Bailey, again. “She was just one of the sweetest people ever. She wouldn’t want us to be mad at him (the shooting suspect) for this,” Gage says. “She wouldn’t want us to be mad at anybody. She would have probably tried to, if she would have known his feelings, she probably would have tried to be his friend.”

He wears Bailey’s hair tie on his wrist for strength.

His mom, Larissa Smock, says she remembers driving more than 100 mph to get to her son that day. He called her to tell her he’d been shot. The call was lost, leaving her wondering if her 16-year-old son was still alive. In fact, it wasn’t until his third stop, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, that she’d get assurance that he would be OK.

On Wednesday, she says she can’t believe yet another community — this time in Florida — has to go through that horror. “They’re going through the most horrible thing they can go through right now. You know, just not knowing if your child is OK is indescribable,” she says.

To the Florida families enduring the tragedy of a shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people and injured many others, Gage’s advice is to hold onto each other. “It may seem hard right now, and everybody will come up to you you. It’s going to be OK,” he says. “It doesn’t seem like that right now. It doesn’t seem like everything will be OK, but it will. You just got to ride it out. You’ve got to stay close to your family and friends and try to grow the relationships that have been broken through this.”

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