CHESTER, Maine — Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy is awaiting the Maine Warden Service’s completion of its investigation of what officials have called an accidental shooting that partially blinded a turkey hunter in Chester on May 11.
Almy indicated it is not unusual for the investigation to still be under way.
“Investigations like this can take a lot of time,” Almy said Thursday.
Surgeons a week ago removed the right eye of Adam Jewell, 30, of LaGrange and replaced it with a prosthetic device after his eye was hit with a single pellet as he sat between a large hayfield and thick woods near 440 North Chester Road shortly after 7 a.m. May 11, Jewell has said.
Jewell already had undergone one surgery at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor to remove pellets and other damage inflicted on his face, neck and upper left torso.
On the day it happened, Maine Warden Service Lt. Thomas Ward said investigators suspected the shooting was caused by mistaken identity of a target. As Jewell sat on the ground, obscured by thick leaves and branches, his friend Joel Susen, 29, of Chester hit him with a blast of turkey shot from about 40 yards away.
The accident occurred after Jewell’s hunting party, who were wearing camouflage garb, spotted and called a turkey they saw in the field before it ran into thick woods. The hunting party separated and moved to the edge of the woods, officials said.
Jewell was sitting in an area between the woods and field when Susen thought he saw a turkey and opened fire.
The warden service took Susen’s weapon as evidence, following standard procedure.
Jewell has no doubt the shooting was accidental. When Susen realized what he had done, he ran to Jewell, tore off Jewell’s shirt to check that the pellets, which shredded parts of Jewell’s face, neck and left shoulder, hadn’t punctured his chest, Jewell has said.
The accident was the first involving a turkey hunter in Maine since 2008, Ward has said.
In 2007, 19,079 people registered as turkey hunters and claimed to have harvested 5,984 turkeys, according to Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife information listed at http://maine.gov/ifw.
In 2008, 19,445 hunters, according to preliminary figures, reported harvesting 6,348 turkeys.
More recent figures have not yet been released.