A former Citadel cadet who was wounded in a 2009 hunting mishap on Wadmalaw Island is suing the man who shot him and the operators of the land, alleging their negligence derailed his dreams of becoming a Navy pilot.
William A. Callegari III was duck hunting with two fellow cadets on Dec. 14, 2009, when he was shot by another hunter, Danny Wade Rowsey, who fired his rifle from a nearby tree stand, authorities have said.
Callegari’s lawsuit states that he was wounded in the upper arm, shoulder and chest, leaving him with severe injuries that forced him to abandon a planned career in the Navy. He has since transferred to Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee, where he coaches lacrosse, according to the lawsuit.
“His life has been forever changed as a result of this event,” his attorney, Kevin Dean of Motley Rice, said.
Callegari is suing Rowsey, property owner John S. Whaley Jr. and James F. Schaffer, who leases the property. Also named are two Schaffer-linked businesses involved in running hunting on the property — Low Country Produce of Charleston LLC and Graham’s Turnout Hunt Co., the suit states.
Callegari alleges that Rowsey was reckless in his actions and that the property operators failed to take adequate precautions and safety measures to avoid a mishap. He is seeking unspecified punitive damages as well as money for medical expenses.
Callegari’s lawsuit states he was invited to hunt on the land by fellow cadet Paul Jackson, whose family had a close relationship with the caretaker and permission to freely use the property, which had no posted restrictions against hunting or trespassing.
When Callegari and his friends positioned themselves alongside a pond, they had no idea Rowsey, who had been given permission to use the property, was nearby, the lawsuit states.
Dean said Rowsey, 50, should have seen the cadets cross the field directly in front of him at about 5:20 p.m. But just after Callegari fired his first shots at a duck, Rowsey opened fire with a .308-caliber rifle equipped with a high-powered scope, wounding the cadet, the lawsuit states.
Rowsey told investigators he mistook Callegari for a deer. Charleston County sheriff’s deputies initially charged Rowsey with assault and battery with intent to kill, but the charge was later dismissed for lack of probable cause. A charge of criminal negligence is still pending, the lawsuit states.
Rowsey’s attorney, Michael Coleman, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. Schaffer also was unavailable for comment.
Andy Halio, attorney for Whaley, said his client signed the lease with Schaffer in his role as trustee of the property, but Whaley wasn’t involved in the hunting operation. “All he was doing was leasing the property to someone else,” he said.