Interstate 71 shooting victim and his family thankful this Thanksgiving


FOX CROSSING, Wis. (WBAY) – Thanksgiving is a time to spend time with family and friends. But, for one Fox Crossing family this year’s feast is about survival and celebrating a life almost lost.

It was a random act of violence at a rest stop on the Interstate 71 in October that almost prevented a Thanksgiving family reunion for the Melchert family of Fox Crossing.

“It’s Thanksgiving and it’s Alex’s birthday, which is appropriate. Because, we’re thankful, all of us, for many things, but we’re particularly thankful that he’s with us. You know, we almost lost Alex. And it is just so wonderful,” says Ken Melchert.

Back on October 2nd,Ken’s son, Alex, away for his freshman year at the College of Wooster in Ohio, was critically wounded after being shot six times by a stranger. With the help of doctors, amazing support from friends and family, as well as a positive attitude — the now 19-year-old man has recovered better than anyone could have expected.

According to Alex Melchert, “The doctors said that normally, a person in my situation, it takes three months to heal up and get out of the hospital and another five months of physical therapy.”

While he’s healed remarkably well, Alex’s physical activity remains somewhat restricted. He continues to build strength, daily with therapy, focusing on his right hand and arm. But less than two months removed from the incident, he’s ready to go back to school when the new semester starts in January.

Alex says, “I miss learning, to be honest. Reading books and stuff gets me a little bit of the ways here, but I miss being in the environment and going to class every day.”

It’s a return his parents and older brother and sister approve of, knowing he will do nothing but succeed.

Alex’s older brother John adds, “He’s my little brother. He’s someone I used to always pick on, squeeze and think he was weak. All of a sudden he’s the strongest person I’ve ever met in my entire life, both physically and mentally.”

Following the shooting, Alex Melchert received dozens of units of blood to help save his life. To honor Alex, a blood drive is being held on Saturday, November 26th from 11am-3pm at the Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Neenah.

Visit the Community Blood Center website.