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Lutz woman, hit by falling bullet, recovering

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:03 PM
TEMPLE TERRACE -

A Lutz woman is recovering at home after a falling bullet hit her while she was watching an Independence Day fireworks show near the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club.

Laura Ann Kaatze, 42, was watching the fireworks with relatives and friends on the golf course near Woodmont Avenue when someone apparently fired a celebratory gunshot and the falling bullet hit her, Temple Terrace police said.

The incident remained under investigation last week, and no suspects had been identified, authorities said.

Kaatze was one of two people in the Tampa area injured by a stray bullet on July 4.

A 74-year-old Clearwater man suffered facial injuries when his cap was struck by a falling bullet while he watched fireworks in Safety Harbor, authorities said. He received stitches at Mease Countryside Hospital and was released.

Kaatze was taken to Florida Hospital Tampa on East Fletcher Avenue for a leg wound. She was released July 5, said her husband, Bill Kaatze.

He recounted the incident that began as a fun family outing.

"We were just enjoying our Fourth of July celebration at the golf course," he said. "It's something we have been doing the last six or seven years."

Bill Kaatze recalled his 7-year-old son was restless and climbed onto his wife's lap to watch the fireworks.

About 20 minutes into the show, Laura Ann Kaatze leaped from her lawn chair, screaming her leg felt as if it was on fire, Bill Kaatze said.

Relatives and friends thought they saw blood. That was confirmed when Kaatze stepped into the light, and Kaatze and onlookers spotted the wound in her right thigh. Bill Kaatze and several bystanders applied pressure to the wound until paramedics arrived and drove her to the hospital.

Physicians at Florida Hospital Tampa decided not to remove the bullet immediately because of the swelling, Bill Kaatze said. Doctors will take it out when the swelling goes down, he said.

A similar incident happened last New Year's Eve, when then 12-year-old Diego Duran of Ruskin was hit in the head by a falling bullet. He still is recovering from his injuries.

Diego's mother, Sandy Duran, launched a campaign in the days leading up to Independence Day, encouraging revelers to avoid celebratory gunfire.


kknight@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7413

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