Rosemary Billquist and her dogs went for a walk at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday near her hometown of Sherman, New York.
But the walk soon turned deadly for the 43-year-old woman when a nearby hunter, Thomas Jadlowski, allegedly mistook her for a deer and fired a shot from his pistol toward the field where she was walking her dogs, according to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.
Jadlowski told law enforcement he heard a scream after firing, and ran to the area where he’d been aiming, about 200 yards away. He said he saw Billquist there, bleeding from the gunshot wound. So he called 911 while applying pressure to her wound.
Paramedics arrived and took Billquist to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania. She didn’t survive, according to law enforcement.
Officers later determined that Jadlowski allegedly fired his gun after sunset, which is the legal cut off point for hunting.
Dale Dunkelberger, a firearms instructor for the state Department of Environmental Conservation's hunter education program, said firing a shot after sunset can be extremely dangerous.
"Hunters have to understand there are other people using trails, using parks in areas where we as sportsmen hunt," Dunkelberger told The Buffalo News. "In this case, it appears from what I gathered this was after sunset, and he shouldn't have been out there hunting after sunset. You're done. That's the law."
Police are still investigating the incident, and the District Attorney’s office has not yet determined whether Jadlowski will face charges.
Billquist’s husband, Jamie, posted a message thanking people for their support.
“I want to say thank you very much from my heart it means a lot and I know she's touched so many lives with her kindness and would help anyone no matter what plz everyone have thanksgiving with your family's and enjoy those moments they are precious Rosemary Jafarjian-Billquist I will miss you and love you forever and I know you dancing in heaven with your momma and all of our friends and family that we have lost,” the post reads.
Another hunting accident happened in the same county on Friday when Robert Meritt’s pick-up truck was struck by a bullet. He and his passenger were unharmed, but the bullet “totally disabled the truck,” according to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.
The alleged hunter, Marvin C. Miller, told law enforcement he mistook the brown truck for a deer.
He has been charged with discharging a firearm across a public roadway, and second degree reckless endangerment. An investigation is still underway.
While these accidents happened within a few days of each other, overall state hunting-related accidents have decreased since 2013, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Last year, there were 13 personal injury incidents with four fatalities compared to the five-year average of 20.2. Seven of those incidents were self-inflicted.