May 26, 2016

Medina
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After 77-year-old is grazed, ‘birdshot’ pellet becomes a blessing in disguise

Steve Ross, son of Boyd and Charlene Ross, holds a “birdshot” shotgun pellet like the one that struck his mother’s neck.  The 12-gauge shotgun accidentally went off in a closet when Ross’ father was preparing to use it to scare away Canada geese from a pond at the family’s home, in York Township. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Steve Ross, son of Boyd and Charlene Ross, holds a “birdshot” shotgun pellet like the one that struck his mother’s neck. The 12-gauge shotgun accidentally went off in a closet when Ross’ father was preparing to use it to scare away Canada geese from a pond at the family’s home, in York Township. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Steve Ross says what happened to his 75-year-old mother could have been a tragedy. Instead, it may be a blessing.

After Charlene Ross was taken to the hospital Sunday from being struck in the neck with a “birdshot” pellet from a shotgun fired accidentally by her 77-year-old husband, Boyd, doctors found she had a previously undiscovered heart problem — an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

“There is no question that this has been a blessing on two fronts,” said Charlene’s son, Steve Ross. “One is that only one pellet nicked her out of the shotgun blast and the second is she was able to be checked out and found that there are underlying problems that we can now address.”

An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat and can be life threatening. Ross said Thursday that surgery to insert a pacemaker in his mother is scheduled for today.

“Had this accident not happened my mom could have been gone at any time,” he said.

“You hate to use clichés but this is a Christmas miracle.”

Ross said his mother didn’t have a history of heart problems, but has not seen a doctor in a couple of years.

“My father had said she hasn’t been feeling well and it turns out that she has been having arrhythmia attacks,” he said.

Ross said his father was shaken by the accident, which happened about 10:15 a.m. at his York Township home. Boyd Ross told sheriff’s deputies that he had gone to a closet to get a shotgun to scare off the geese from the pond.

The shotgun, a Stevens Model 320 12-gauge loaded with No. 8 “birdshot” shells, went off. The blast went through the closet wall and into the back of a recliner, where his mother was sitting.

One pellet grazed the back of her neck, causing a 4-inch-long laceration, Steve Ross said.

“The detective found the vast majority of the pellets still inside the chair and only one pellet made through the chair,” he said.

Charlene Ross was flown by helicopter to Akron City Hospital, where she is doing well, her son said.

Ross said his mother has been up eating and being her normal self. “We had never any cause for alarm.”

Ross said he feels somewhat responsible for the accident. He explained that his parents now live most of the year in Nevada and only recently returned for the holidays.

He said he was the last person to use the shotgun, which his father usually kept unloaded.

“I’ve been battling with this aspect because in a way it is my fault,” he said. “I should have unloaded it before he arrived at the house.”

Ross said he thankful he still has his mother.

“It’s just one of those things where God says, ‘I am going to get you into the hospital one way or the other and shooting you might be the way to do it,’” he said.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.