(MIAMI) — An American doctor is recovering after he was shot three times during a mission trip to help schoolchildren in Haiti last week.
Dr. Doug Burbella, 58, and a group of missionaries working under Living Water Ministries were on their way to deliver $20,000 worth of computers and servers to a school in Anse-Rouge on April 4. They had been in the country for only four hours when their trucks were suddenly roadblocked by a group of about 150 Haitian men, Burbella said.
One of the men threw a tire in their path and set it ablaze. Then, dozens more began circling and climbing on top of the trucks. The missionaries told ABC News that the ambushers carried every weapon imaginable, from machetes to long rifles and machine guns.
“Then there was a hailstorm of gunfire,” Burbella told ABC News in a phone interview.
Drew Pasler, the driver of the truck transporting Burbella, put the truck in reverse and tried to turn around, but one of the back tires had been shot.
Pasler heard Burbella scream that he had been hit.
“I turned around and saw bullet holes in Doug’s jaw, neck and shoulder,” Pasler told ABC News in a phone interview.
The group of men caught up to the truck and ordered the missionaries out so they could take their belongings. All of the missionaries complied except for Burbella, who played dead in the backseat.
Burbella said the ambushers took his cellphone and some cash before one of the men began aiming a long rifle at his head.
“Just when I thought they were about to finish me off, a man on a motorcycle came out of nowhere and said ‘No,’” Burbella said.
The man on the motorcycle said something in Creole and the ambushers immediately stopped and began returning most of the items that they had taken, Pasler told ABC News.
The missionaries carried Burbella to the second truck and rushed him to a medical facility. Burbella, who was bleeding profusely, told ABC News, “I thought I was going to die.” So he asked Pasler to record a message for his wife and son.
“Honey, I just want you to know I love you, and I love you, Michael,” Burbella says in the video obtained by ABC News. “Michael, I want you to be a pilot. Don’t ever give up that dream. Live for the Lord.”
Burbella survived. The day after he received medical treatment in Haiti, he was flown to Delray Medical Center in Florida.
Shelly Weiss, a spokesperson a the medical facility, confirmed to ABC News that Burbella was shot three times — once in the jaw, neck and spine. She confirmed that surgeons were able to remove all three bullets from Burbella.
“The one thing that was most inordinary about this was the Haitian man on the motorcycle,” Pasler said. “He was our angel that day.”
Burbella, who has reunited with his wife and son, said his recovery is expected to last at least four months. He added that the attack will not stop him from completing his mission trip in Haiti.
“I will go wherever the lord tells me to go,” Burbella said. “But I will have to ask my wife.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.