By Ken MacLeod

WORCESTER (CBS) – Hunter Richardson was enjoying his holiday break back home in Orange after his first semester at Keene State.

But he spent Christmas — and the days since — lying motionless in the Intensive Care Unit at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester with his family at his bedside.

“It’s horrible,” says his mother Lee Anna Richardson with tears streaming down her cheek. “There’s really no other way to say it.”

The 18-year-old went out deer hunting on Christmas Eve with his father, younger brother, and cousin – in the woods off Tully Road near the Athol line.

That’s where Hunter smacked his rifle butt on an icy pond to see how thick enough to support his weight. But the muzzleloader fired — ripping into his chest.

“I never in a gazillion years thought I’d be in the ICU with my son,” says his Mom, “hoping he’d just survive.”

His dad — a retired Marine — stopped the teen’s bleeding out in those woods, and a stranger at a nearby tree nursery used his tractor to clear a path for first responders.

Hunter Richardson recovers after he accidentally shot himself while hunting. (Courtesy Photo)

Hunter Richardson recovers after he accidentally shot himself while hunting. (Courtesy Photo)

Fortunately, the bullet missed Hunter’s heart and a major artery, but it tore through his left lung and shattered his shoulder blade.

Doctors haven’t yet decided if they should try to remove the bullet fragments. That’ll come later.

“You survive off of everybody’s prayers and love,” his mother says.

And there’s been plenty of that. Friends have ferried in meals as the Richardson’s keep a ’round the clock vigil at the hospital.

But the family has also been stung by the online venom of some people who have sarcastically jabbed Hunter for his lapse in judgment — even though the teen has owned it from the start.

Hunter Richardson. (Courtesy Photo)

Hunter Richardson. (Courtesy Photo)

“Before he was sedated, he said he took responsibility for it,” Lee Anna Richhardson laments. “It was his fault. He screwed up. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person or irresponsible. He just made a mistake.”

State Environmental Police point to the incident as a somber reminder for all hunters to always make sure the muzzle of their rifles is pointed in a safe direction.

Now, Lee Anna Richardson says she’d much rather focus on her son’s recovery, and the GoFundMe page aimed at helping out with the mounting medical bills.

“If you would be kind enough to donate that would be wonderful,” she says. “If not, a prayer works just as well.”

At this point, it’s baby steps for Hunter, as he faces at least two weeks in the ICU — and a long recovery.

Ken MacLeod

Comments (5)
  1. When you intend to shoot and kill other animals for fun and accidentally shoot yourself, it’s called karma. I like the picture the deer getting a good chuckle from this’ll. Hopefully Hunter(you can’t make this stuff up) is okay, and chooses a more productive and less idiotic hobby.

    1. David Keith says:

      “… Hunter(you can’t make this stuff up) …”

      I know! All I can think of is Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd: “Hey, get a load of the little Nimrod!”

  2. David Keith says:

    He took responsibility for shooting HIMSELF??? Who else would he think might possibly be responsible?

    Any hunter or gun owner who even thinks of using his weapon for anything other than its intended purpose is an idiot. And he is a danger not just to himself but to everyone around him.

    The man almost qualified for a Darwin award.

  3. You people on here commenting venom are heartless! I can’t believe you would send anything but prayers to this family. Unbelievable! Hunter, prayers to you and your family. I will be thinking about you today and in the future. You have a long road ahead of you.

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