Man Paralyzed While Hunting Still Loves Sport

Posted at 10:57 PM, Nov 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-15 06:00:01-05

Randy was struck by a stray bullet 23 years ago while hunting.


Back on Nov. 19, 1989, Randy Snyder of Lakeview went out hunting with a group of guys, mostly family, near Morley.

“A bunch of them were pushing the woods and I had come in from the other direction and I stood by a crick, and we just had  a deer come out and everybody had taken their shots, and I  had shot too,” Randy said, “I just turned around, I was facing toward the south and it just felt like something had hit me in the neck and the next thing I woke up and must have been later that day, in Butterworth.” He continued to explain that it was a similar feeling to someone snapping you in the neck with their finger.

Randy’s wife Nancy was enjoy a peaceful day at home, while her kids Eric and Sarah were gone, washing dishes when the phone rang.

“It was Randy’s mom I could tell something wasn’t right at times she was hysterical and then calm right down,” Nancy explained. “She says
Randy’s been hurt, I said is he alright? No you need to get here right away.”

Nancy rushed to the field where ambulances were on the scene. One of them, actually got stuck while trying to transport Randy out of the field, so he was brought to the road in the back of his brother’s truck. From there, he was flown to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids

“The doctor came out and said that he was paralyzed.” Nancy said. The bullet, however, would forever be lodged in Randy’s neck. Removing it, doctors said, could cause more paralysis than the chest down situation he already faced. Authorities believe the bullet came from as far away as 3 miles and was traveling downward when it struck Snyder.

On December 6, 1989, he was moved to Mary Free Bed for recovery and to learn to do things he would face in his every day life.

“In Mary Free Bed you really get a real cross-section of how people handle it there were some in there that were so bitter and then there were some that were laid back.” Randy said, “Fortunately I was on the laid back side but I really got to look at some that were just angry at life, you know why did this have to happen to me type thing. I think because of my nature I kind of said I don’t want to be that way.”

Throughout his three-month stay at Mary Free Bed, he was granted occasional visits to his Townline Lake home in Lakeview.

“That was fun, frustrating, happy, sad, it covered the gamete. ” he added.

While some things, like showing the kids how to play ball, turned into sitting along side of them and telling them techniques. Just a few years ago, his son-in-law Paul insisted that Randy get back in the woods to hunt.

“He built a cart that would load up my chair and go into the woods behind a four-wheeler. We built a ramp or a pad that we put a 5 by 5 dog house on top that I can wheel up and in to go hunting.” Randy said.

“I wasn’t quite as excited about, that I have to admit and still to this day it’s hard, I prefer he goes on bow season.”

Just two weeks ago, Randy snagged a buck with his cross-bow. He will not be heading out on opening day Thursday, but he doesn’t want that to discourage others.

“It’s like driving a car, if you go out and bump into a tree and get a dent, don’t stop driving it’s just like this okay, I’ve had my accident, I don’t want to quit hunting, I don’t want anybody to quit hunting it’s a beautiful sport.” he added.

Randy and Nancy say the community support system they have had over the years has been amazing. Randy, who was only two months into his maintenance job at Lakeview Schools, was told from the start that they would find a new position for him. Currently, he works in the high school office. Randy also takes great pride in coaching Wildcats softball.