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NJ - Ex-mayor, brother shot

Al Schweikert and his brother Vincent hurt by shotgun pellets while hunting in Union Twp.

Saturday, November 24, 2007
By ANDREA EILENBERGER
The Express-Times

UNION TWP. | Shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday, former High Bridge Mayor Al Schweikert was continuing his Thanksgiving Day hunting tradition when he felt the heat of a shotgun.

Birdshot pellets struck him in the neck, knee and thigh.

One hit his brother, Vincent Schweikert, in the neck. The pellet remained lodged near his thyroid Friday afternoon.

"I looked at my brother and saw the blood coming out of his neck," Al Schweikert, 48, said as he described the shooting.

He said they were about the size of BB pellets, and that he didn't suffer any major injuries. Vincent Schweikert, 45, was awaiting a CAT scan Friday afternoon and was expected to need surgery to remove the pellet.

The men had been hunting pheasants in the Clinton Wildlife Management Area, a place Al Schweikert said he's hunted for about 30 years.

He said he and his brother were about 90 feet from the hunter who shot them, Joseph Lowey, 44, of Fords, N.J.

Lowey was on the other side of a bush at the time.

New Jersey State Police at Perryville said in a news release that the preliminary investigation showed the two shots that hit the Schweikert brothers were fired from Lowey's shotgun.

Lowey declined comment Friday.

Schweikert said Lowey was part of another group of hunters, and he believes Lowey was shooting at a bird that was on the ground.

No violations or penalties were levied, according to Darlene Yuhas, state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman. She said the incident is under investigation.

State police characterized it as a hunting accident.

Schweikert said he, his brother and their two hunting dogs were wearing hunter orange. The dogs were also wearing bells.

This year, he noted, there were many more leaves and more hunters than usual.

He said when the shots struck them, he shouted out for the shooter to stop. He called 911 and told the shooter to stay with them as they made their way out of the woods.

"There was no way for us to be found except to walk out," Schweikert said. "It took us about 20 minutes to walk out."

He said the shooter walked with them and took responsibility.

New Jersey State Police and state Fish and Game Conservation Agency officials met them, and the Clinton First Aid Squad took the brothers to the Hunterdon County Medical Center.

Al Schweikert said his brother's neck is swollen and puffy.

Schweikert said he thinks there should be a system of numbered posts in the hunting area so that authorities can find someone there when necessary.

He stressed the importance of gun safety and smart hunting.

"We were very, very lucky," he said.

He was mayor for 12 years has been out of office for almost a year. He said his brother previously served as chairman of economic development.

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