Town business as usual, even as gunshot wound keeps Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor in hospital

Deputy Mayor Wally Andersen said carrying on as usual is exactly what John Hickey would want council to do.

Hickey remains in hospital in St. John's in 'very serious condition,' according to deputy mayor Wally Andersen

John Hickey suffered a gunshot wound to the face in a hunting accident on Saturday. He was airlifted to St. John's Saturday night and underwent surgery. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is in hospital in "very serious condition," but town business will proceed as usual, according to deputy mayor Wally Andersen. 

"We're going to move forward with every expectation that mayor Hickey will be back with us," an emotional Andersen told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"We're going to do that because this is exactly what the mayor would want us to do."

It's unclear how, but Hickey's gun went off when he was out in the woods alone on Saturday checking his rabbit snares, and he was reportedly shot under the chin.

Hickey made his way to the road and was taken to local hospital. He was airlifted to St. John's Saturday night, just after midnight, and underwent surgery on Sunday afternoon.

John Hickey remains in hospital in St. John's in serious condition. (John Hickey/Facebook)

The town is holding a candlelight vigil for Hickey and his family on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in front of the town office.

'Far too many incidents in my lifetime'

Andersen, who said he is now acting mayor during Hickey's absence as per the town's protocol, said he had a conference call meeting with the rest of council Sunday night.

"I've gone through probably far too many incidents in my lifetime and it's difficult," he said.

"But we're going to keep one thing in mind — that John would say to us, 'Listen, carry on, keep on going and move forward. Keep the agenda going,'" he said.

Andersen said he advised council that it proceed with budget meetings, its regular agenda, and all of the municipality's scheduled Christmas plans.

Wally Andersen says council will move forward because 'this is exactly what the mayor would want us to do.' (CBC)

Indeed, the town's Christmas parade went ahead Saturday as the mayor was being treated in local hospital, with residents unaware of the situation and Hickey's serious condition.

The town didn't put out an announcement about the incident until later in the day.

Andersen said there was no intent to delay the message, and that cancelling the parade was out of the question.

"I can assure you, for the little children and the people in the parade, there's no way that if Mayor Hickey could speak, would he want that parade to stop in any way," he said.

Andersen said people are encouraged to show their support for the town's leader at the vigil Tuesday night.

"We just want to gather, to come there with out thoughts for Mayor Hickey and his family," he added.

Labrador MHA Perry Trimper, whose Lake Melville district includes Happy Valley-Goose Bay, described Hickey on Monday as a fighter.

"Anyone who's had to interact with John, whether it be on lobbying for this community over another, they know what a formidable foe he can be," he said. "His style and approach is one of very strong conviction, and right now, that's working, rather selfishly, I would suggest, for himself to get through this."

With files from Labrador Morning