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PA: Hunter blinded in accident

May 7, 2010

Hunter blinded by shotgun blast in rehab
Wife: 6-foot-1 husband wearing full camouflage

NEW BERLIN The community is rallying around an assistant football coach at Mifflinburg Area High School blinded by a shotgun blast from another turkey hunter a week ago today.

Michael Hobbins, of New Berlin, was shot in the upper body Saturday while hunting on state game lands in Limestone Township, Union County. The gunfire sprayed onto his arms and into his eyes, his wife, Terry Hobbins, said Friday. Hobbins was critically injured and flown by helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

"I was terrified," she said Friday. "I can't even tell you..."

Terry Hobbins let out a sigh of relief Friday when she was finally able to say that her husband "moved to rehab. It's wonderful. It's going to take some time, but we know he'll be back."

The other man was not hunting with Hobbins.

"We're hopeful that he'll be able to see again. It'll just take some time," Terry Hobbins said. "We're very proud of him. He's doing remarkable well."

According to his wife, Michael was walking back to meet his hunting party, who was waiting for him at his truck, when he heard another hunter perform a turkey call.

He was reaching for his bright orange hunting vest and trying to get out of the other hunter's way when he was shot.

Pennsylvania state law does not require hunters to wear orange clothing when looking for gobblers and a representative from the National Wild Turkey Federation, a nonprofit conservation and hunting organization, believe not doing so could be dangerous. The group suggests wearing full camouflage, which Hobbins was wearing that day.

Terry Hobbins suggested that the shooter may have seen movement after making the turkey call, so he fired his shotgun.

"He wasn't wearing anything that would make him be mistaken for a turkey," Terry said of her husband, who stands 6-foot-1 .

Terry said she is thankful for prayers and support the family has gotten from the community, and the New Berlin Fire Company, when the shooting occurred.

"Everything went so smoothly and perfectly and everyone was by his side," Terry Hobbins said.

"We knew he was in good hands."

A Facebook group formed the day of the shooting has nearly 550 community members, relatives and friends.

"Mike's a super nice guy," said Mifflinburg Mayor David Cooney, who has known the family for years and works with Hobbins through the Mifflinburg football team.

Cooney is the public address announcer at games.

"He's a nice role model for our young student athletes," Cooney said. "Everyone in Mifflinburg is praying for his speedy recovery. We just hope he gets back in action as soon as possible."

According to the Game Commission's Web site, it is illegal to shoot a turkey during spring gobbler season without identifying its beard.

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