Twin Cities grandma takes shot of hot lead in leg watching Old West show
A shot of hot lead from an Old West reenactment gone awry has a Twin Cities grandma limping home Monday with a shattered leg bone and a canceled vacation.
Carrol Knutson, 65, of Birchwood, near White Bear Lake, was one of three tourists wounded Friday night at a staged shootout on Main Street in the Black Hills town of Hill City, S.D.
The shootout -- in which blanks are supposed to be used -- was one of many choreographed by volunteer cowboys from the Dakota Wild Bunch Reinactors as a regular summer attraction in the area and as a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network.
The Pennington County Sheriff's Office has yet to explain how the shots fired by one or more of the actors winged the spectators. The Dakota Bunch said on its Facebook page that it was holding off on any further reenactments but otherwise would have nothing to say about the incident, which authorities are deeming an accident.
"The last gun battle was just concluding, and the next thing I knew there was blood spewing out of my leg," said Knutson, who was with her husband, Don, and their 13-year-old grandson, Jake.
"Jake was standing right next to me," Carrol Knutson said. "He was very strong and trying to encourage me, be positive. 'It's going to be OK. It's going to be OK.' "
Jake's nurturing aside, Grandma Knutson said things have not been OK. She tallied up the consequences: a shattered fibula, thousands of dollars in medical expenses and the remainder of their westward vacation -- a stop in Yellowstone and a whitewater rafting excursion -- canceled.
"It was extremely painful," Carrol Knutson said of the moment when her flesh and bone were pierced. "Worse than anything I can imagine," she added, topping even the three times she gave birth.
"At least then there was a good outcome," she said.
At the hospital 30 miles away Friday night, Carrol Knutson said, police and the doctor said "there was no doubt in their mind that it was a bullet" that hit her.
"They think it was a .45-caliber," she said. "There was lead residue, which indicates it was a bullet."
Before the shooting, Carrol Knutson had invigorating experiences on the vacation, saying that she conquered the 700-plus steps at the Jewel Cave National Monument in the Black Hills and polished off a 7-mile hike.
Now she gets around with a walker and is looking at six to eight weeks of recovery.
"My summer is shot," she said, obliviously to the pun she had just made.
Could legal action be an option?
"I'm not a vindictive person," said the recent retiree from 3M. "I'm still waiting for the city to contact me. At least a phone call would be in order.
"I think they should pay the medical bills," she added, noting the "huge dedictibles" that her insurance requires.
The others who were wounded were Jose Pruneda, 52, of Alliance, Neb., and John Ellis, 48 of South Connelsville, Pa.
"I got shot in the forearm, and it went through the other side of my elbow," Ellis told the Rapid City Journal. "I had surgery around midnight Friday to remove bone and lead fragments."
A little 'innocent' accidental gun violence, which emphasizes in an unusual way the risks of guns as a source of entertainment.