43-year-old Rosemary Billquist took her dogs for a walk just after sunset on Wednesday, but sadly, she never made it back. According to the New York Daily News, she was mistaken for a deer by a local hunter.
She was shot while walking on a trail near her western New York home by Thomas Jadlowski. The New York Daily News reported that when Jadlowski heard her scream, he immediately called 911 and stayed with the woman until the ambulance arrived, but she was pronounced dead in the hospital.
Her husband, Jamie, rode in the ambulance alongside his dying wife. He’d heard his dogs barking before he saw the ambulance — then he knew something was wrong.
He told the Buffalo News:
“They tried saving her. It was just too bad … It’s horrific. It will be with me the rest of my life.”
He continued, saying his wife was a wonderful, generous person:
“She was always out to help somebody. She never wanted credit and was always quiet about it. She’s just an angel. An angel for sure.”
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace agreed with Jamie about the severity of the shooting, telling the outlet:
“This is a horrific incident …This destroyed two lives.”
According to reports, the incident occurred around 5:30 p.m., 40 minutes after sunset. Police told the Buffalo News it is illegal to hunt after dark.
Jadlowski reportedly has not been charged with anything yet, but the investigation is still underway.
Dale Dunkelberger of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s hunter education program told the outlet that hunters need to be much more cautious:
“Hunters have to understand there are other people using trails, using parks in areas where we as sportsmen hunt. 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.”
But one can never be too prepared. USA Today says it’s important to wear the right colors when planning on going into wooded areas during hunting season:
Wearing a blaze-orange-colored vest, hat, or pack cover is one of the most important things you can do to stay visible to hunters. It’s what hunters themselves wear for safety. […] make sure you wear bright colors and steer clear of earth tones. Avoid wearing white, though, because it resembles the rear of a white-tailed deer. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy also advises not wearing red or blue during turkey season.
It’s unclear what exactly Rosemary was wearing at the time, but it might have been too dark to see anything other than reflective fabric. USA Today also wrote that orange vests are made for dogs, too, in case hunters mistake pets for prey.Rosemary Jafarjian-Billquist/Facebook
Although Rosemary’s death was a tragedy, officials hope both hunters and nature-seekers heed to safety regulations to make sure not another human life is lost.