by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — An accidental shooting on Wednesday, March 14 has left a young Walsenburg man recovering in a Pueblo hospital, but many associated with the case, from medical personnel, sheriff’s deputies and family members are calling Ty Noga a miracle man.
Noga, 22, accidentally shot himself in the leg while sitting in his pickup truck at the John Mall High School football/track complex at around 4 pm March 14. Noga is a volunteer track coach and practice was just beginning.
Sources close to the on-going investigation said prior to the accident, Noga may have been out target shooting a recently purchased .40 Glock semi-automatic handgun. Authorities believe Noga may have been unfamiliar with the safety mechanism of the pistol and accidently discharged it when he thought it was empty. The bullet reportedly ricocheted and struck Noga in the leg, damaging a femoral artery.
Other sources close to the investigation said Noga may have been talking to a family member on his cell phone at the moment the accident happened.
Sheriff Bruce Newman said this week that Noga had the presence of mind to dial 911 himself from his vehicle. It was then some of what have been described as miraculous circumstances occurred.
City and county officers were notified by emergency services dispatch of a reported gunshot at the sports complex location. It is reported that Huerfano County Ambulance personnel were monitoring the emergency band radio and heard the report and raced to the scene even before they had been paged.
Noga was transported to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center suffering from massive blood loss and the trauma associated with the gunshot wound. He was stabilized then transported via flight for life to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo. Newman said two trauma teams and emergency medical specialists were all available at the Pueblo hospital and Noga underwent immediate treatment.
The femoral artery is comprised of a few large arteries running the length of the thigh. A gunshot wound to this vital artery is often fatal and even with quick medical attention, this type of injury often leads to the loss of the limb.
The quick police and EMT response, the initial trauma care at Spanish Peaks and the availability of trauma specialists at Parkview were all cited by Newman as very positive circumstances.
Family members have kept the community posted about Noga’s progress via Facebook entries. Noga’s aunt, Barbie Corsentino-Bunker wrote on Facebook Friday, March 16, “He is doing remarkable for only being into this accident for 48 hours. Our prayers are being answered! He was able to sit up for a short while today and brush his teeth! He is drinking liquids and broth. He is getting plenty of rest as he should and has been responding to treatment very well. That hospital is in amazement with him and how well he is doing. I can’t tell you how many doctors and nurses lives have been touched by this amazing kid!!!”
Corsentino-Bunker released a statement approved by Noga’s family on Tuesday, March 20 saying, “The family of Ty Noga would like to express their sincere gratitude to the entire community of Walsenburg following his recent accidental and life-threatening shooting. It is because of the well-executed, quick responses and professionalism of the emergency response teams’ efforts that saved Ty’s life. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but has made great strides thus far, improving daily. We are encouraging the community to join us for a blood drive in Ty’s honor on Thursday, March 22 from 11 am until 6:30 pm at Bonfils Blood Center in Pueblo”.
As of this week there has not been any official police report filed in the case. Newman said on March 20, that a number of officers from the Walsenburg Police Department and the sheriff’s office have reports on the incident and once they are all completed and compiled into a single incident report they will be forwarded to the district attorney’s office for review.
Newman said he had no idea if there is any cause for any possible charge associated with the accident involving a firearm at a school district facility.
School Superintendent Dawn Olson said the school district’s policies involving firearms or other deadly weapons on school grounds (policy KFA) only address the illegal possession of those prohibited weapons. It is unclear whether the district’s current policy contains a provision that applies to this case.
All school policies are available on the district website, at huerfano.k12.co.us. To read the district policy on weapons, select the School Board information tab. Then select Board Policies, and go to section KFA Public Conduct (REVISED January 2009):
In many cases involving firearms, state statutes take precedence over local policy and that remains one of the areas being reviewed by law enforcement authorities.