Idaho Falls man loses leg in bear-hunting accident

kterhune@idahostatesman.comMay 8, 2013 

Curtis Jaussi, 34, is determined to hunt again, his wife said Wednesday.

Curtis was hunting with a friend north of Fairfield Saturday when his rifle discharged accidentally inside his backpack. The round struck him in the left knee.

Curtis' hunting companion used a belt and a shirt to tie a tourniquet around the injured leg, then hiked to the nearest ranger station for help.

He was airlifted to a local hospital before being transferred to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where his leg was amputated. Despite the severity of the injury, his wife Colette Jaussi said Wednesday that her husband remained in good spirits.

“He’s doing good most of the time,” she said. “He’s a very positive person.”

Curtis is scheduled for a second surgery to close the wound Thursday. His wife said that it is the last surgery he will need before being fitted with a prosthetic in three months.

The Jaussis have three children: Maylee, 6; Makia, 3; and Cameron, 10 months. The younger two are too young to comprehend the accident, Colette said, but her oldest daughter has a better grasp on what happened.

“We told her that her daddy has been in an accident," Colette said. “We’re really blessed, because there is a boy in her kindergarten class with a prosthetic leg."

Curtis has hunted since childhood, his wife said.

Family friend Mitch Brian said that the accident illustrates the importance of gun safety, even among the most experienced hunters.

“It can happen to anybody, because he’s a seasoned hunter," Brian said. "This is not his first bear hunt."

Brian is heading up an online donation effort to help with Curtis' medical expenses.

“They’re a nice young couple,” he said. “They’ve had challenges like the rest of us financially, and this would just wipe them out.”

Those wishing to help can visit www.donateidaho.com to donate towards a medical fund for the Jaussis, he said. By Wednesday evening, donations totaled more than $8,000.

Curtis is facing extensive rehab, but is already making progress, Colette said. He hopes to receive a prosthetic that will allow him to hunt again, she said.

“That is where his passion is, and we’ve had lots of encouragement that he’ll be able to return to it,” she said.

Brian agreed, predicting that his friend would definitely find a way to return to his hobby.

“Knowing Curtis, I think he’s going ‘heck yeah, I’m going to hunt again,’” he said.

A prosthetic will also ideally allow him to return to work, Colette said. Curtis owns his own business as a painting contractor.

His wife said that she believed he would make a full recovery.

“He’s a motivated person,” she said. “I have no doubt he will get better.”

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