Survivor of Quarry shooting reflects on year of recovery

“Life is so precious especially after what happened.”

SAN ANTONIOAlana Castaneda has fought to recover not only physically but emotionally and mentally nearly a year after she was shot in the face by a carjacker at the Alamo Quarry Market.

“My perspective on life has completely changed because, that night, I remember being in this limbo between life and death,” Castaneda said.

That balance between life and death narrowly tipped in Castaneda’s favor nearly one year ago.

On Nov. 2, 2021, police say then-18-year-old Julio Caesar Rivera shot Castaneda in the face outside of Whole Foods all because he wanted her car.

“That was the hardest battle. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life was just coming in and out of it,” Castaneda said.

She’s been through hours of physical therapy and several surgeries, including one to reconstruct her orbital floor.

The mental struggle has been just as hard.

“I feel, like, so happy just to be here with my family still, and that’s great. But I do have my moments where I’m like maybe, you know, why did this happen to me,” Castaneda said.

Castaneda was touched by what happened in Uvalde on May 24 at Robb Elementary. She made the journey there to offer support for the families of the 21 victims, knowing how it feels to be impacted by gun violence.

“These kids do not need to be out here ruining people’s lives and taking innocent lives away from families and friends. It’s not OK,” she said.

The man accused of shooting her is still awaiting trial. Castaneda said it was hard to see him at a court appearance.

This past year, she has found comfort in a trauma support group and from simple moments with the people who love her.

She hopes sharing her story will help someone else.

“If my story can help somebody else out there, whatever they’re going through, then everything that I did go through was worth it,” Castaneda said.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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