Adam Jewell knows he will never be the same. Jewell often has trouble sleeping, getting only four hours of rest a night. Pellets bubble up in the skin of his head, arms, hands, torso and knees, and they sometimes cause pain or irritation when he accidentally presses on them, he said.
And his right eye is gone.
“I will never be the way that I was, but I would like to think, too, that I have become a better person,” Jewell said Thursday. “I have gained some perspective on what’s really important.”
Jewell, 30, of LaGrange was shot by a fellow turkey hunter in Chester earlier this year. He was hit in the right eye with a single pellet — among the many that hit him — as he sat between a large hayfield and thick woods near 440 North Chester Road shortly after 7 a.m. May 11.
Several operations were performed by the father and son team of Drs. Craig and Curt Young at the Vision Care of Maine surgical facility in Bangor. On Friday, Jewell had a prosthetic eye surgically implanted, which he hopes will end his need for more surgery, unless doctors decide to remove more pellets, which he would welcome.
“If they don’t do it, I think I will start cutting them out myself,” he said wryly.
On the day Jewell was injured, Maine Warden Service Lt. Thomas Ward said investigators suspected the shooting was caused by mistaken identification of a target. Jewell had been sitting on the ground, obscured by thick leaves and branches, when his friend Joel Susen, 29, of Chester hit him with a blast of turkey shot from about 40 yards.
The incident occurred after members of 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, Susen told investigators.
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 shooting was the first involving a turkey hunter in Maine since 2008.
Susen was issued a summons for assault while hunting, a Class D misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. In Lincoln District Court on July 6, Susen’s attorney entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf and requested a jury trial, according to court officials.
The case will be transferred to the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor for that trial. No date has been set, said Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Maggie Gray, who did not know when Susen was issued the summons.
When asked why Susen had been charged in the shooting when Jewell believed it was accidental, Gray declined to comment.
The 2010-11 edition of Maine Criminal Statutes says “a person is guilty of assault while hunting if, while in the pursuit of wild game or game birds, he, with criminal negligence, causes bodily injury to another with the use of a dangerous weapons.”
Susen’s attorney, Donald Brown of Brewer, said he was surprised that his client was charged with a crime.
“It’s a difficult situation,” Brown said Friday, “but it seems like an unfortunate accident, not a crime, to me.”
Susen could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
A man of deep Christian faith, Jewell said he found forgiving Susen for the shooting a relatively easy task. For one thing, this was after all an accident for which Susen has expressed regret many times, Jewell said.
“I have seen pictures of Joel taken just after the accident that are part of my copy of the [accident] report. He is just standing there looking at me. His face is broken. He is just broken. It tears me up to see him and how broken he was,” Jewell said.
“Through this whole incident Joel and I have become so much closer as friends. We are spending an awful lot of time together,” he added. “It is still hard with him because he has such a kind heart. He wouldn’t hurt anybody. It still bothers him, but it is easier for him. We are both of the same [Christian] mindset.”
A salesman, composer and musician raising three children with his wife, 29-year-old Laura, Jewell said he is busy creating video projects at Bangor’s Motion Light Studios, which is almost 6 months old and still in startup mode.
He and his business partners are working on a documentary for which they hope to find financing to finish, and are vigorously pursuing other projects, Jewell said.
“Life is short. You are not guaranteed that you are going to make it that many years, so the time you have you have to invest. Life is an investment. You have to take care of today,” he said.