Girl, 6, shot in road rage incident may never walk again, family says

Chyna Sands said her daughter still remembers the trauma from the encounter.
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 2:51 AM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/Gray News) - A 6-year-old Kentucky girl’s life has changed forever after she was shot in the back during a road rage incident while riding in a car with her family.

Chyna Sands, the mother of 6-year-old Onyx, is praying for her daughter’s recovery. The bullet that struck the girl during a road rage incident severed her spine, and she now needs around-the-clock care.

The family planned to go to Florida the weekend of July 23, but now, they’re just hoping for the day when Onyx makes it out of the hospital.

Sands says she can’t stop reliving that tragic day and what she saw when she got to the emergency room at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

“It was just very chaotic,” Sands said. “My baby was laying on the table. She was bleeding. They were about to intubate her, and I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what had happened. I just was concerned about my baby.”

Sands told WAVE that Onyx’s stepmother was driving her father, two stepbrothers and Onyx from football practice at the park last Monday. She said the car was trying to avoid three motorcyclists weaving through traffic along Interstate 65 when the riders got frustrated and started shooting at the car.

One of the bullets struck Onyx, severing her spine.

Sands says her daughter still remembers the trauma from the encounter.

“She remembered going to the park, and she told me when they got in the car, she remembered hearing ‘boom boom,’” she said. “Then, she saw something bright like a firework, and then, there was blood on her seat. Then, she recalls her brother saying he didn’t want to die.”

Sands says doctors aren’t sure if Onyx will be able to walk again. She says her daughter has a spicy personality and loves to dance, so it’s been hard for her to find the words to tell her what may be her new reality.

“She’s starting to get frustrated,” Sands said. “I haven’t told her yet. I’m telling her that her legs are resting because I don’t know how to tell her that. I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”

Onyx’s grandmother, Chastity Reynolds, whom she affectionately calls “Chi Chi,” isn’t ready to give up hope just yet.

“I’m not claiming it. I’m not claiming that she won’t walk again,” Reynolds said. “I’m believing and trusting in God that she will.”

The tragic circumstances have left both Reynolds and Sands feeling helpless and in despair, as they believe Onyx’s pain and suffering could have been prevented if not for the senseless gun violence.

“She’s perfect,” Sands said. “She’s a perfect little kid, and these people have robbed my baby of the simple things we all get to enjoy.”

For now, Sands says they are going to take things one day at a time, and with the help of her amazing support system, she says she will do everything she can to make sure Onyx can have as normal a life as possible.

Onyx celebrated her 6th birthday with friends and family just two days before she was shot, her mother says.

A GoFundMe has been created to help the family with medical bills.

Police say all the people involved in the road rage incident have been identified. Only one arrest has been made.

Jonathan Rivera, 33, of Louisville, is charged with being a felon in possession of a handgun. He has not been charged with the shooting itself.

An arrest report says police found several shell casings at the scene that matched a gun seized from Rivera.

Jaret Hill, Rivera’s attorney, says his client was just riding his motorcycle when a car hit him from behind. According to Hill, Rivera was only defending himself.