William Wehnke, 51, claims to have spotted a wild turkey in his field in rural Annsville, New York (population 3,000). He took aim and fired at the turkey and managed to hit Matthew Brady, a workers comp investigator, who happened to be crouching in the field, dressed in camouflage. Brady was apparently performing surveillance on Wehnke, who is collecting workers comp benefits for an unspecified injury. Whatever his disability, Wehnke is obviously capable of operating a shotgun.
Local authorities are not buying Wehnke's story about the turkey. He's been arraigned on a three-count grand jury indictment that includes felony second-degree assault and unlawful manner of taking. He is even charged with using inappropriate ammunition for hunting turkeys. Wehnke is in a lot of trouble for his little turkey shoot.
Investigator Brady was hit in the side, back and legs. He underwent surgery and presumably filed his own workers comp claim for what is surely a work-related - if highly unusual - disability.
Images - Lasting and Otherwise
I could not help but think of the other Mathew (sic) Brady, the 19th century photographer whose iconic images of the Civil War still resonate with us. As pathetic as investigator Brady's situation is, his earlier namesake fared even worse. After the Civil War, Mathew Brady found that war-weary Americans had little interest in purchasing photographs of the bloody conflict. Having risked his fortune on his Civil War enterprise, Brady lost the gamble and fell into bankruptcy. His negatives were neglected until 1875, when Congress purchased the entire archive for $25,000, which might sound like a lot, but was not even enough to cover Brady's debts. He died in 1896, penniless and unappreciated. In his final years, Brady said, "No one will ever know what I went through to secure those negatives. The world can never appreciate it. It changed the whole course of my life."
The world may ultimately take little note of the suffering of the other Matthew Brady, wounded as he crouched in that desolate Annsville field. His life, too, has been significantly changed. But he at least will benefit from the wonders of modern medicine and the cushion of weekly indemnity, until he once again pursues his craft as a comp investigator. But the next time he is asked to don camouflage, he just might want to take a pass.