SAN ANTONIO -- A major send-off is planned for six-year-old Sutherland Springs survivor Ryland Ward who has been at University Hospital for the past couple of months. He was shot five times at First Baptist Church. On Thursday, the young survivor will be released from the hospital.
Stockdale Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Duncan was there on Ward's worst day.
"He grabbed my pant leg," he said. "So, I looked down and it was a little arm. He was under his stepmother. He was one of the first one's I pulled out of the church."
Ever since that unforgettable day, Duncan has had a special bond with the young boy. He tries to visit Ryland every Sunday at the hospital.
"He has gone from being unconscious for the first time to being so joyful," he said. Such a high-spirited little boy."
Duncan made a promise to Ryland for the day he gets out of the hospital.
"I will give you a ride as soon as the doctors says it is okay," he said. "Well, the doctor says it is okay and I am going to keep my promise to him and I am going to take him home in the fire truck."
Stockdale Fire Engine Two will be spick-and-span for Ryland to ride home in. Wilson County Fire Marshal Edwin Baker said he will be one happy little boy.
"He deserves the outpouring of love that will be be shown to him," Baker said.
Duncan posted on Facebook about the special send-off, and he said he has been overwhelmed with responses.
"Everything from San Antonio PD to fire, to Bexar County, to fire EMS in the area that all want to be involved," he said. "It is not just them, but tow-truck companies and 18-wheeler guys. Everyone wants to be involved in this. So, this little boy has a lot of prayer from a lot of different people, and I hope he hears it."
He is expected to be released Thursday afternoon. They will leave from the hospital, and head down Highway 87 towards La Vernia where everyone will be posted along to give the survivor a major welcome home.