Without warning, the front passenger-side window of the moving vehicle in which Julie Husband was traveling shattered.
Mrs. Husband, who was grading papers on the Ohio Turnpike during the long drive from Iowa to New York, was shot.
Since the Nov. 24 shooting, troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol have been investigating, trying to figure out how and why Mrs. Husband, 47, ended up with a 12-gauge shotgun slug in her jaw. She was riding in the front seat while her husband was driving.
“What are the chances of someone going down the road at 70 miles per hour and a shotgun slug hitting someone in a moving vehicle?” said Lt. Vern Fisher.
Troopers and Lucas County sheriff’s deputies have interviewed landowners near where the shooting happened — in Swanton Township about a mile east of milepost 49 — trying to find out who might have been out shooting.
As Mrs. Husband and her husband, Jim O’Loughlin, 47, later learned, Nov. 24 was the second day of a two-day youth hunting season.
“That’s what we’re thinking,” Lieutenant Fisher said. “We don’t know for sure, but we think it might have been someone out hunting. A freak-accident thing.”
John Windau, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said officials there were not aware of the shooting.
In general, there are several hunting accidents reported every year, with one fatal shooting so far this year. Last year, 15 injury incidents were reported to Division of Wildlife officials; in 2011, 12 such incidents — one of them fatal — were reported, Mr. Windau said.
The day of the shooting was the second day of travel for the family, who left their Cedar Falls, Iowa, home to spend the holidays with Mrs. Husband’s family in Rochester.
When the window broke, Mrs. Husband said she knew instantly that she’d been shot, but first thought someone was “taking pot shots at passing cars,” she wrote in an email.
She told her husband, who had pulled their 2012 Toyota Prius over, to get back on the road and to step on it. Her son Nick O’Loughlin, 15, needed to call 911.
Somehow she needed to keep herself, her husband, and her three children calm.
Adrenaline kicked in and Mrs. Husband was “very, very alert,” applying pressure to the wound and already thinking about signs of shock.
“I ran my finger through my mouth to see if I was bleeding there (yes, but no missing teeth) and then down my neck to see if my neck was bleeding [no],” she wrote in the message.
It could have been so much worse, she said.
Mr. O’Loughlin stopped when he saw a trooper, who helped get a Monclova Township ambulance to the Turnpike.
Mrs. Husband spent two days at Toledo Hospital, where doctors removed the quarter-sized slug. After her release, the family returned to Iowa.
Mrs. Husband said she expects to make a full recovery — there could be some permanent nerve damage and she could lose a molar, but it’s too soon to know for sure.
For the next several weeks, her jaw must remain wired shut; she’s at home doing a little work — she is an associate professor and head of the department of languages and literature at the University of Northern Iowa — and resting.
She and her family hope their story spurs a discussion about “how gun owners might take responsibility for gun ‘accidents,’ ” Mrs. Husband wrote. “It seems to me that this is not about gun rights but about gun responsibilities. ... Requiring people to carry insurance for guns makes them more aware and responsible for taking the security measures ... they should take.”
She also hopes they will find out who shot her and, upon returning to Iowa, was surprised to learn there was no media coverage of the shooting.
No information about the shooting was released to the media until Mrs. Husband emailed a statement to local news outlets.
Lieutenant Fisher said the incident should have warranted a news release and it was unclear why one was not issued.
“That’s the stuff we need to get out there,” he said. “Someone might have known something, seen something.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Highway Patrol at 419-708-9839.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.