herald

Saturday 19 January 2019

Shot Irishman fears he may be paralysed

AN IRISHMAN gunned down in Honduras following a dispute over a bicycle now believes he may never walk again.

Joe O'Donnell (41) was blasted in the back with a revolver on August 19 and the shot ruptured his spinal cord.

He underwent two life- saving operations but is still in a serious condition in Honduras' Cemesa hospital.

The attack is understood to have been provoked by a dispute with a woman over where he parked his bicycle. The woman's partner later shot him.

Speaking to the Herald from his hospital bed, Joe admitted that he fears he will never walk again.

"I'm in a hell of pain to be honest. It's very difficult to move. I can't walk at the moment and there's no guarantee I'll ever be able to walk again," he said.

"I could have better movement in six weeks, six months or even longer. It's hard to predict," he added.

Mr O'Donnell was born in Sydney but holds an Irish passport. His father Sean, who died in 2004, was born in Tralee, Co Kerry.

He has been living on the popular Roatan Island for the last few months and was in the process of setting up his own diving shop when the shooting happened in broad daylight.

It followed a row with a local man who has since handed himself into the police.

A local teenager brought Mr O'Donnell by truck to the nearby hospital. After being stabilised, he was transferred to Cemesa hospital on the Honduran mainland.

Police in Honduras are continuing to investigate the shooting.

Mr O'Donnell told the Herald that he is struggling to contain his anger against his gunman and that he will fight to ensure he serves a jail sentence.

"We had a run-in a few days before, so I knew him, but I never thought this would happen. What he did is not justified. I'm really angry that I've been left like this. I feel like I want revenge but I just hope he gets sent to prison."

He has received floods of messages of support from friends and family in both Ireland and Australia.

But he said his biggest fear is how to cover his spiralling medical costs which are already estimated to reach $60,000.







Wedding

"I don't know how we'll cover it, it's a lot of money. Apparently lots of donations are being made which I'm very grateful for.

"As well as hospital bills I'm going to need a lot of physical therapy when I get out so, yes, the costs are worrying."

His family in Co Kerry are devastated.

His uncle, Christy Nelan, said the incident had "hit the family extremely hard".

Joe, whose mother is Japanese, has been a regular visitor to Kerry and recently attended his cousin's wedding here.

hnews@herald.ie

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