February 10, 2007 - Associated Press
• Shooter says he thought swimmer was big rodent
• Victim in good condition after 8 hours of surgery
• Gunman, 60, charged with assault, drug possession
EUGENE, Oregon (AP) -- A snorkeler who was shot in the face after
he was apparently mistaken for a swimming rodent was in good
condition after surgery, a hospital said Saturday.
John William Cheesman, 44, of Springfield, underwent eight hours
of surgery Thursday to remove bullet and bone fragments from his
face, said his wife, Shelley Cheesman.
"He's doing really well," Shelley Cheesman said. "The bullet hit
in front of his right ear, where the bone is the most dense. It just
fragmented and didn't go into his brain."
He was listed in good condition at Oregon Health & Science
University Hospital in Portland.
William Roderick, 60, of Reedsport, has been charged with
assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of
methamphetamine and marijuana. He was being held in the county jail.
Roderick told deputies he thought Cheesman was a nutria swimming
in the Smith River near Reedsport, about 90 miles southwest of
Eugene, and shot him with a .22-caliber rifle, police said.
A nutria is a water-dwelling South American rodent species that
is larger than a muskrat but smaller than a beaver. It was
introduced to U.S. waters in the 1940s, according the National
Cheesman, an avid diver, was in the river looking at different
species of fish, his wife said. He swam to the river bank and yelled
Roderick and another man came to Cheesman's aid in a boat, called
911 and drove him to an ambulance.
"I do give him credit for helping him," Shelley Cheesman said of