OGDEN -- From his bed at McKay-Dee Hospital, Jonathon Pettit issued an emotional written statement Tuesday saying divine intervention saved him after an accidental shooting on the opening day of the state's rifle deer season.
"There is no doubt in my mind that I was protected," Pettit, a 53-year-old Roy resident, said in the statement recounting his harrowing tale of survival. "The gunshot should have killed me. I am so grateful that I found the strength to survive."
Pettit was hunting Saturday in a remote area near Snowville between Kelton and Locomotive Springs and had just removed his antique .36-caliber Navy muzzleloader pistol from his truck when the gun discharged.
"I had my gun in my hand and lifted my tailgate," he wrote. "The force of closing the tailgate discharged the pistol. It (the bullet) entered my right side and traveled up my body and lodged on my back bone."
Pettit wrote that the force of the bullet lifted him off the ground and threw him backwards.
"I laid there bleeding for over a half hour and thought I was dying," he wrote. "I could not move and could barely breathe. I tried my cell phone, it had no service. I told myself that I had to get out of there or I was going to die. When I could, I got up, put myself in my truck and looked for anything to plug the hole."
Pettit first used his finger to try and stop the bleeding but was unable to drive his vehicle. Then he tried to stem the flow of blood with a socket wrench and finally some electrical tape.
"I traveled approximately 10 miles when my phone rang," Pettit said. "It was my daughter wondering why I was not at her birthday party. I immediately told my daughter to call 911 and my wife picked up another phone and called 911. The dispatcher told me to hang up and call 911 with my cell phone. As a result, they were able to track me to my location."
He was eventually met by rescuers and was airlifted by a medical helicopter to McKay-Dee Hospital.
Mary Jane Pettit, who is Pettit's mother and lives in Kaysville, said Tuesday night it's a miracle her son didn't die.
"Even the doctor said he was a lucky duck," she said. "He could have easily bled to death where he was hunting."
Pettit expressed thanks to a park ranger from the Golden Spike National Historic site who helped him, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office, the staff of the medical helicopter and doctors and nurses at McKay-Dee Hospital.
Anyone who wants to help with Pettit's medical expenses can contribute to the Jonathon Pettit Donation Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank.
Typically, about one hunter a year accidentally shoots themselves in Box Elder County, said Box Elder Chief Deputy Kevin Potter.
Potter reminded hunters to treat every gun as if it were loaded, not to point a weapon at anything they don't intend to shoot and always be aware of what is behind their intended target.