Expectant Mom Recovering From Stray Hunting Bullet

ByABC News via logo

Dec. 8, 2004 — -- Loved ones of a pregnant woman injured in a shooting, apparently by a hunter's stray bullet, believe she is lucky to be alive, but they want new hunting regulations that will give greater protection to suburban homes and businesses.

Casey Burns, 18, remains hospitalized as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head. She was shot while sitting in her car outside her North Whitehall Township, Pa., home on Nov. 30. Burns, who is seven months pregnant, was preparing to follow her fiancé to his mother's house at the time.

"When I looked through and saw the hole in the window, I opened the door and saw her bleeding," Robbie Katner, Burns' fiancé, told ABC News' "Good Morning America." "I took off my sweater and put it on her head to try and stop it [the bleeding] until the ambulance and everybody got there."

According to the International Hunter Education Association, hunters accidentally shoot more than 1,000 people in the United States and Canada every year. Authorities in Pennsylvania worry that more bystanders will be injured by hunters' stray bullets as more homes are built near wooded areas where hunting is common.

"We have had several incidents of people reporting that their houses have gotten struck by stray bullets," said Sgt. Andre Stevens of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Pennsylvania game laws require hunters to remain 150 yards away from occupied homes and businesses when they use firearms. However, Burns' relatives say lawmakers should consider requiring greater distances because bullets can travel farther than 150 yards.

"They [authorities] are telling us that it [the bullet that wounded Burns] came from the orchard nearby and these guns are actually capable of going anywhere from 800 yards to 1,000 yards," Allie Dickinson, Burns' mother, said on "Good Morning America." "To me, that seems like a common-sense thing, that if a gun [gunshot] can travel a mile, then you need at least a mile safety distance between the hunter and a person that's just an innocent bystander like my daughter."

Dickinson objects to suggestions that residents have to take extra precautions when they live near hunting areas.

"One of our state senators made the comment that we need to take extra precautions during hunting times," Dickinson said. "I'm sorry, but it is not my responsibility or my daughter's responsibility to take precautions when they [hunters] are hunting. This is our home. And what could she have done other than wear an entire bulletproof vest, bulletproof helmet and drive an armored car to prevent this from happening in her own home?"

Burns is recovering well, her family says, and her unborn baby is still healthy.

"The baby is doing very well," Katner said. "We couldn't ask for any more. As long as the baby is safe, and it is going to come out healthy like we originally planned, we will all be real [sic] happy."

Police have interviewed several hunters who were in the orchards near Burns' home at the time of the shooting but they still have not found the gunman. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is also investigating the shooting.

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