On the 2nd June 2010, Derrick Bird from Whitehaven in Cumbria started a shotgun massacre. By the end of the day, not only had he shot himself, but had also killed 12 other people, and injured 11 more. One of these was 52 year old Fiona Moretta from Rishton.
Friends, and trip organisers, Pam Marsden, and her husband Stephen, said they had been horrified that she had been targeted. Pam, a Tai Chi tutor, organised the getaway in the picturesque western Lake District to help her friends get away from the stresses of life. She was on a week-long break with seven friends from the Tai Chi class and was out taking a walk. At the time of the shooting, Fiona was on a walk from her self-catering accommodation, at the Eskdale Centre in Boot, to Eskdale Green. She had gone out for the walk on her own while some of her friends went to the beach and others, including the Marsdens, took a trip on the La'al Ratty steam engine.
Pam said Derrick Bird had drove past her friend as she walked down a quiet country lane, before stopping and reversing. When he was metres away he told her he was going to kill himself.
Suddenly, Bird shot her in the head, aiming for her face as he had done for many of his victims. Friends said that she was able to turn her head slightly before she was hit and the bullet hit her in the right hand side of her head, breaking her jaw. Shrapnel also entered her throat. Bird then drove off, leaving her lying on the floor. He shot three other people in the hamlet before turning the gun on himself.
Miraculously, Ms Moretta was able to stand moments later, and flag down passing motorists. The first person on the scene was an off-duty intensive care nurse. But, because the region had been 'locked down' by police, she was unable to get full medical care until she was driven to West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven around an hour later.
She was initially described as being in a critical condition and was transferred to Cumberland Hospital in Carlisle by an officer in a police car. Despite 'horrific' injuries Ms Moretta is now recovering in Cumberland Hospital, Carlilse, and could even be home within days.
The mum-of-two, who is a steward at Rishton Methodist Church and works as a home carer for disabled children, is positive about her condition, friends said. She had undergone a tracheotomy operation to free her airway. Ms Moretta was unable to talk, and was communicating by writing.
She was shot in Boot where Bird injured three other people before killing himself. Boot was the last community of the foothills of the Cumbrian fells before the fields give way to wilderness. The hamlet marked the end of Derrick Birds horrific murder spree through West Cumbria.
On the 22nd July, 2010, over 7 weeks after the incident, Fiona returned to her home in Rishton after being released from hospital. After recovering from her injuries at Cumberland Hospital, Carlisle, and a tracheotomy operation to free her airway, the mother-of-two went to stay with her own mother away from East Lancashire.
Close friend Pam Marsden, said: “Fiona’s had absolutely amazing support from local people. Throughout the town, people have been asking about her and sending their best wishes. The response had been incredible and that had helped her so much."
Lancashire telegraph, Thursday 10th June 2010.