Shooting Victim Recovers and Reflects on Accident

By: Sarah Stokes
By: Sarah Stokes

A Cadott man who fell victim to a stray shotgun slug is nearly back to normal five weeks after the shot tore through his truck and into his side.
As an EMT, firefighter and police officer, John Gazda never thought he'd be the one needing rescue. But when he took a tour of some wilson township hunting land, his life took a turn.
"A higher being was watching over me that day," Gazda said.
John gazda hunted this land for twenty years... Now it just haunts him.
"There's days i'm watching tv and i'll have a flashback, I'll be there or in the helicopter," Gazda said.
It happened november 21st... He was driving this dodge down this dirt road... When something made a popping sound. As he looks at the hole in the side of his truck, he remembers, "when I felt the pain I looked down and this is what I saw right away." A 20 gauge slug pierced the truck door and hit him in his left side... He drove to a nearby gas station where he knew he could get airlifted out... Six days and a surgery later, he lost some small intestine ... And lost a little ground.
" It's not completely healed yet, bu the pain is almost gone," he said.
Gazda says the man who may have shot him, came forward, but there's no word if criminal charges will be filed. "He's going through his own distress... From what I understand he was very emotional when he found out he shot another human being," Gazda says.
"Yes there was recklessness, negligence, but it's not for me to decide. If the Eau Claire County D.A. wants to press charges that's his decision," says Gazda.
He's much happier here playing fetch with his chocolate lab than he was sitting in a hospital gown... And he wants to be the last victim of a stray shot to be sent into surgery.
He says, "use common sense... If people would just take an extra second. A deer is not worth a human life at all."
Gazda says he's going bow hunting tomorrow with a buddy, but he plans on just keeping him company for now. As for work, he will continue his duties as a police officer, firefighter and emt in cadott... But he's adding a new challenge... He's beginning work as a counselor for lutheran social services.


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