Nfld. & Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor suffers gunshot to the face while out trapping

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor John Hickey is fighting for his life in a St. John's hospital after he was accidentally shot in the face.

John Hickey undergoing surgery and remains in 'very, very critical ' condition

John Hickey, who retired from provincial politics in 2011 to spend more time with family, returned to municipal politics this year. (John Hickey/Facebook)

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor John Hickey has been shot in the face and is in critical condition in a St. John's hospital.

Hickey, who was a member of the House of Assembly (MHA) from 2003 to 2011, went into the woods alone to check his rabbit snares on Saturday, sources tell CBC News.

It is unclear how the gun went off, but Hickey was reportedly shot under the chin before making his way to the main road to get help.

"John is very much a Labrador man," said town Coun. Lori Dyson. "The doctors kept talking about how tough he is … how strong and stubborn to get himself to the road."

Hickey went into surgery Sunday afternoon for what was expected to be a lengthy procedure. Dyson said his condition remains "very, very critical."

'Amazing' response saved his life

In a statement released Saturday evening, Deputy Mayor Wally Andersen said Hickey was "in critical, but stable condition" at the Labrador Health Centre.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Hickey and his family at this time," said Andersen.

Hickey was taken to hospital in St. John's just after midnight. Dyson praised the efforts of the first responders, both with the local ambulance service and the medevac team.

"It was nothing short of amazing how they handled him and took care of him," she said.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor and former MHA John Hickey is in critical but stable condition after a hunting accident on Saturday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper offered his thoughts on Facebook for his friend and colleague.

"The paramedics, nurses and doctors are amazed at the 'strength' of this man, after all that he has been through in this accident," said Trimper.

"Our thoughts and prayers will now be needed to help John with his recovery."

His wife is expected to arrive in St. John's on Sunday afternoon to be by his side.

Council proceedings to continue

Because of Hickey's absence, Happy Valley-Goose Bay Town Council met Sunday to discuss council operations, and voted in a unanimous decision to continue to operate in the usual manner.

"At this time, we need to proceed with regular Town operations as if Mayor Hickey were present," Deputy Mayor Wally Andersen wrote in a statement. "This is something Council knows he would want, especially as we are in the midst of the 2018 budget process."  

The town will be scheduling a candle light vigil for the community to share their prayers for Mayor Hickey and his family. Details will be released to the public when available.


Ryan Cooke is a journalist in St. John's.

With files from Lisa Gushue