Norton Woman Has Not Forgiven Trooper Who Accidentally Shot Her

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

NORTON (CBS) – Cheryl Blair has only been outside her home twice in the last three months, still needing a cane to do the work her left leg can’t.

Blair’s life changed in an instant last New Year’s Eve when she was accidentally shot by an off-duty state trooper who was hunting in the woods behind her home.

Blair was walking her dogs when she heard the deafening sound.

“I heard the gunshot and it was loud. And then I felt the sting and that’s when I went down,” said Blair, in an exclusive interview with WBZ-TV.

The half-inch lead ball pierced her pelvis on the left side, shrapnel exploding, as police say John Bergeron mistook her dog’s tail for a deer they say he had seen in the area earlier in the day.

“It wasn’t until I started yelling that I realized he had shot me and not a deer, and he had horror and panic in his voice,” she said.

With no cell phone Blair says the trooper ran for help, and she doesn’t know how long before EMT’s arrived as she lay on the ground with her dogs keeping watch.

“You don’t know if you’re going to die. I know I’ve got pain, I don’t know what the bullet hit. It was imperative to me that I stay conscious, I would not allow myself to close my eyes.”

The bullet shattered her hip leading to nine surgeries for repeated infections that require a daily dose of antibiotics her husband Jim administers through an IV.

Her hospital stay that was expected to last a week turned into two months.

Blair, who recently retired from teaching, says it’s a day-to-day struggle she never planned for in her retirement.

“You ask yourself, why would you fire a gun when you don’t have your target in sight. I hope I can get to a point where I can forgive him,” says Blair.

“I hope I can do that. Right now I need to recover.”

She says doctors are optimistic that she’ll be able to eventually walk on her own without a cane. But she worries about future infections, with shrapnel still lodged in her body.

“What it means long term I don’t know, that’s what worries me. In ten years I don’t know if something’s going to come back and I’ll get another infection.”

The shooting took place fifteen minutes before deer hunting season was to end.

State police called the shooting an accident, but state Environmental Police say the case remains open with no final determination.

More from Beth Germano
  • firemanmark

    the statie is a complete moron.he should have been fired and put in jail.why would the state allow this retard to keep a gun?

    • Deb

      It was clear how much this affected the shooter by the 911 call, BUT it has affected the rest of her life and I don’t know that he should have gone to jail,, BUT (again) his license should have been revoked. I am not sure that I could forgive either, but it was an accident. If this was anyone else, i,e, not a person in law enforcement, would the punishment or lack thereof, been any different!??

      • D'Terian Theodorius Jackson IV

        You and she cannot forgive because you are not a Christian, therefore you do not understand that not forgiving only damages YOU. Go ahead, genius, keep ridiculing Christians. After all, they are all just a bunch of hypocrites, aren’t they?

  • Cynthia

    Why does your news station blow this up as a story about her not being able to forgive the police officer? That was one small comment she made, and it was more in a tone of “I hope I can one day forgive him” – at the end. This report should have been titled “follow up on woman shot accidentally by state trooper” – You can clearly hear the shock and remorse in his voice on the 911 tape. That’s not to say I think what he did is excusable or forgivable. A dog’s tail and an actual deer? – VERY different. Children as young as 12 years old learn gun control and get hunting licences. Your mind plays tricks on you when you are hunting, certainly… wind blows, leave rustle, you think you see something… but to not have a true visual and shoot anyway? Epic FAIL. There was only 15 minutes left of the season. That says a lot. This story should have been reported as “how shot woman is doing” not “Woman Has Not Forgiven Trooper Who Accidentally Shot Her.”

    • Michael

      As a teen I hunted and we were taught never to discharge our shotgun anywhere residential dwellings…by law Stupidity is not a defense.

    • Kevin

      My thoughts exactly. Sensationalism at it’s worst. These writers get their jollies by denigrating the reputations of people they don’t know based on situations they know little about. How nice would it be if the writer took the angle of how hunting can be dangerous and both hunters and hikers (walkers) have responsibilities to ensure safety for all?

      Hope those involved can count their blessings that it didn’t end worse and move on from this. All the best.

  • donny

    Knowing the openness landscape of such woodland in that area… I’m disgusted with the pace of this investigation. The shooter obviously made a very poor decision which has caused this poor woman and her family such a tremendous amount of grief. The NRA should be the first to crack down of gun owners like this IDIOT hunter who failed miserably at the most base responsibility he accepted when he went out with al loaded weapon.

    This story sickens me…

    With our gun rights come profound responsibility. Where are my second amendment brothers and sisters?… Sorry to say but silence is agreement with such irresponsible gun ownership!

  • Jennifer

    Two dogs and a woman sound very different than a deer walking through the woods. This pathetic excuse for a gun owner, never mind that he’s a cop, should be brought to justice.
    I guess we blame the victim because she wasen’t wearing an orange vest?
    That’s crazy!
    This situation fills me with distain for state of our law enforcement.
    My heart goes out to Mrs. Blair, she deserves better than this.

  • Buddy

    Yup, Just another case of who you know. Not a thing happened to this State Trooper. He should have his firearm license suspended for life. If so he should then be fired and fined and perform community service.

    If it were your average citizen the D.A.’s office would go out of s/he way to make an example out of this person. It’s not just here in Mass. but all across the country law enforcement has a separate set of rules. They are exempt from the one’s we have to abide by.

  • America1

    I am hunter and am sickened and frightened by this tragedy. Could have been any of our children. There were many EPIC failures that this corrupt state buried:
    1. Hunting illegally- too close to houses.
    2. Hunting after legal light.
    3. Not able to identify target and shot anyway?!
    The 15 mins left in the season is telling. Tells me this statie is a bragget and was not going home this season without a deer at any cost. Desperate people do desperate things. If she was unconscious would we ever know who shot her?

  • dan

    state police…in the wrong!!!! never, i know my father was a cop..protect your own. that is the way it goes….right or wrong.

  • Italo

    I’m naive in this area of interest, so not being a hunter, someone please clarify for me: am I expecting too much in wondering why/if there was very visible signage, or not, outside of and around the wooded area, alerting a) non-hunters that it was a hunting area and to proceed with caution, and b) hunters to proceed similarly? I was thinking that if that’s not the case currently, it might be a very wise and safe idea in the future and across-the-board in wooded areas.

  • AT

    I’m sorry for both of these people. However, if I lived in an area where there were woods that people hunted in I would not be walking my dog in there during hunting season no matter what time of day it was.

    • Julie the Jarhead

      Blaming the victim in 3 … 2 … 1 …

    • Linder

      I agree on not walking in the woods during hunting season. Im sure the facts were all looked at and IF this was an ofiicer with a questionable background and history, that would have been carefully scritinized and brought out. He had a lis and something went terribly wrong.

      I dont get hunting at all, but its here to stay, As to where this should be permitted is up for review. Everyone with a hunting lis needs to be informed of where they can hunt or not hunt. If they are on the move, they need to report in to each town that they are there to hunt and then sign off that they were told specifically as to where they can and can not hunt.

      I feel they both have a long road ahead of them. The article was wrong to plant bad seeds.

  • Angry American

    “Dan” you must not have been able to pass the test!!!

    • Richard Chaney

      Yes he failed the IQ test, it was too high!

  • Mike

    This has NOTHING to do with this mans profession. Who cares that he’s a Trooper? Focus on the issue of his negligence. If they need to yank his hunting license and levy fines along with the civil suit that I’m sure is coming from the Blair family then so be it. Stop bashing the State Police. They have nothing to do with it. And as for her infections, blame the hospital, doctors or Mrs Blairs ability to keep her body healthy prior to the accident. The infections have nothing to do with the State Police either. Stay focused people!!!!

    • donny

      Sorry, but to not expect more disciplined action from a trained law enforcement official seriously questions his training and fitness to posses a firearm in any situation. If he’s this trigger-happy to bag a deer 15 mins before the end of hunting season, what other poor decisions is he ‘likely’ to exercise out in public?… His profession surely does matter as this ‘accident’ would be far more understandable if the hunter were a average Joe who didn’t make a living with a firearm strapped to his hip. That privilege comes with tremendous responsibility for the damage that can be done – as shown here.

      This guy should lose his hunting license and gun permit. Give him a desk job – he SHOULDN’T CARRY. He’s given up that awesome responsibility by showing he’s not fit to handle it.

      This isn’t a game.

    • Joan

      the infections are being caused by the shrapnel still left inside her body. It does have to do with the fact she was shot. Didnt you read the story?

    • Linder

      I would almost venture a guess that in a court case, the fact that this man was a State Trooper or police office, that he knows more then the average Joe hunter on right or wrong handling a firearms.

      As for the lady, she wouldnt have infections if it were not for the entry wound and the shattered hip the office caused. . She could have been on the beach somewhere if this hadnt happened or running after her dogs.

      The infections are the direct result of the injury. AND to have the audacity to suggest she didnt keep her body healthy prior to the accidnet is to suggest she needed to go into training to be shot. You are wacked!

  • jn

    When this first happened it was reported that Mrs. Blair was walking her dogs on property that did not belong to her, and yes it was hunting season. It was an accident that could have been avoided if Mrs. Blair had at least worn bright orange as other hunters do to avoid being shot. Not saying it is all her fault, but she needs to shoulder some of the blame.

  • trisha46

    when it’s hunting season at these places, more attention has to be brought to the walkers’ attention… not being a hunter, I have no idea when it is or isn’t hunting season. Hunting should not be allowed in areas where hikers and walkers are known to be… go to the deep woods … again, a person’s life is affected by a damn gun.

  • trisha46

    ….and just because he’s a state trooper, that doesn’t make him a good hunter….apparently, he didn’t have the sense to know that a dog wasn’t a deer and he just shot the gun anyway.

  • jim

    Two problems. None of which is his profession. First a hunter needs to know what he is shooting. Not think he know what he is shooting. Second is he missed what he was shooting at. He was shooting at the dog and hit her. Two serious problems. No hunter should ever shoot without verification of a target and a clear shot. He had neither. Did he break any laws. Probably not, but he should not get a hunting license given to him any time soon until he goes through a remedial hunting class. Every town has a rod and gun club that have these classes.

  • My_Penny

    The state trooper should be brought to justice. First lose you firearms license, 2nd, pay for the damage you caused to this woman. Apologies are meaningless, do the right thing, pay for her medical bills!

  • Larry M

    Is it time for the Dept of Fish/Wildlife to consider the closing time for deer hunting? (Sunset instead of one half hour after?)

  • Jerry

    Mrs. Blair (or any one else) should have never been shoot like that. (I have seen children playing in the same wooded area) I came here to start a new job in the aerospace industry a couple of years ago and bought a house near the Blair house. Sadly I never lived in New England before that, so I did not know how bad this area is for its stupid laws and lack of correct laws to protect citizens. This is just another case that proves it.

    The hunting law that ends the season 30 minutes after sunset makes no sense. This should bee 30 minutes before sunset when you still have daylight. No wonder the trooper couldn’t see his target.

    The lack of a hunting law or any law for that matter the allows you to shoot without positively identifying your target. You might as well shoot straight up in the air and maybe it will come straight back down and you can shoot yourself.

    The firearm law about being 500 feet from houses should be 500 feet plus the maximum range of the weapon. (so you can’t hit the house).

    Maybe they have spent way to much time on other “laws of inconvenience” this is just some of the other things that make no sense.

    As a land owner I can not build a Casino or Recreation Park on my own land. Laws to keep you from selling or buying beer before noon on Sunday or on a holiday and dictating that as a store owner you can only sell beer at select stores. This is not fair to the store owners and is not free enterprise. We can not use the car insurance company we choose.
    I also find it hard to understand why on one hand the Massachusetts laws allow openly the homosexuality of same sex unions but on the other hand will not allow unisex nude beaches or even topless sunbathing. I sadly purchased a house with only a semi-private yard before I knew we could be arrested for indecent exposure for nude sunbathing and skinny dipping in our own back yard. This is supposed to be a free county.

    What about spending some time on useful laws so that we will not get shot walking through the woods and some laws that would make it illegal to have pot holes on almost every street or use a cell phone while driving.

  • sloppjohnB2

    Her husband originally forgave the trooper. In fact, he alllowed access to hunting in their yard. He used to hunt with the trooper. It’s too bad she got shot but obviously it was an accident. It sounds like Attorney James Sokolove called. The tune has changed.

    • the husband

      the husband NEVER “forgave” the shooter. he said he understood it was an accident. also, there is no Sokolov.

  • Richard Chaney

    Sue the cops ass off! Take his outragous pension.

    You can’t fix stupid, but you can make them a cop and overpay them.

  • emom

    If you DO NOT have a clear eye on your target, HOW in the world can you have a CLEAR SHOT on your target,,,,Its getting dark, AHHHH you need a flash light to even see , so why is it that a hunter can still hunt with little light out….Next why doesn’t the fish & wildlife people POST signs in areas of which hunters will be… I live in an area that does not have any signs of any hunters in the area,, YET we can hear in the distance you sometimes can hear gun shots, Explain that reasoning. I also drive in areas of where deers live, Are we to proceed with caution when a stray bullet could come through our windshield in these wooded areas. there is no warning signs and if there are we cant see them while driving,,,,, And as for infection, bullets can cause many infections, think about how they are handled, and its a foreign item in your body and your defense kicks in to fight such foreign items,,,, not surprised she is on so many antibiotics. If the woods are in your back yard why is it not posted hunters are there, they shouldn’t be close enough for a bullet to reach within 1000 feet of the edge where the Forrest meets your yard, God forbid your pet goes into the woods.

  • RecallDeval

    No one cares about this whiny b*tch. Don’t walk in the woods during hunting season dumb-a$$

    • Larz Blackman

      Why aren’t you in school, little boy?

  • linda

    IIt said it was a 1/2 inch lead ball. What kind of a weapon is that from?

    • Matt

      Primitive weapon aka muzzleloader. Old school, and it was lucky for her. Most people hunting that season use a sabot bullet that’s much more conventional (and better ballistically) The fact that it was a round lead ball probably saved her life.

      As a hunter for over 30 years I’m appalled by the trooper’s actions. It gives all of us a black eye. You know if it was an average citizen involved they would’ve had their FID revoked and guns confiscated. and I wouldn’t argue.

      Hunting rule #1 – never pull the trigger without positively identifying your target. I’ve seen a lot of things in the woods while hunting. Bears, moose, coyotes, fishers, dogs, bobcats, other hunters, to name a few. None of them could ever be mistaken for a deer.

      • Eric

        Generally speaking a round ball will do more damage than a “bullet”, for the same reason that bullets are more accurate and have greater range. A bullet moves through air or a fluid more efficiently. That means the round ball transfers energy to the target more quickly, and tends to do more damage.

        That assumes a solid bullet, of course, and not a hollowpoint.

      • Matt

        That’s where you assume wrong. The sabots are hunting bullets, and are not solid. They’re made for controlled expansion. I’ve shot deer with both and trust me the sabots cause more damage.

  • Eric

    An extremely poor hunter. Even if it HAD been the deer he was looking for he would probably have wounded it. An ethical hunter doesn’t fire unless he’s reasonably sure of a quick kill. He certainly doesn’t just shoot at something he thinks MIGHT be a deer, blindly hoping he doesn’t just wound it.

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