A woman struck by a stray ramrod accidentally fired from an antique musket during a game fair was lucky to escape with a fractured shoulder, medics have said.
The 41-year-old from Omagh — who does not want to be be identified — was at a game fair at Shane’s Castle in Antrim on Sunday when she was hit by a metal ramrod fired from a musket by a member of the North Irish Dragoons re-enactment group.
It lodged in her left shoulder, fracturing it and just missing an artery. Police are investigating.
Ramrods are used to ram down the charge of the barrel of a musket. They are removed before the antique rifles are fired.
The victim’s husband said his wife, who works as a chef, had a lucky escape. He said: “The ramrod was two-foot long. It was the blunt end that went into her shoulder. It nearly came out the other side. If it had have been the sharp end it would have been very serious. The doctors have said she was very lucky because it came close to an artery.
“She’s very sore and she doesn’t feel lucky — but she is.”
He added: “The ramrod just missed a seven-year-old boy — a friend’s son who was standing beside us. If it had hit him it could have been fatal.”
His wife — who is due to be discharged from hospital today — may require future surgery.
He said: “The doctors are worried about infection, but they hope the fracture knits itself. She will have to take time off work.”
Albert Titterington (64), director of organisers the Great Game Fairs of Ireland, has sent a card to the couple’s Co Tyrone home.
He said: “Nothing should have happened. We had better safety than we needed.
“The dragoons are professionals. This guy was not dangerous or cavalier about it.
“He really is traumatised. This will be with him for life.”
Dragoons’ spokeswoman Patricia Gilbert said: “The only thing I want to say is our main concern is for the lady who was injured and we are thinking about her. Apart from that I have no comment.”
The victim’s husband added: “No-one has contacted us directly. Even a phonecall or an enquiry to the hospital, it would not have been hard. I just want her home now and on her feet again.
“We went on a fun day out and it turned out to be a disaster.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “The weapon has been seized and no arrests have been made at this stage.”