Freak goose mishap harmful |

Freak goose mishap harmful

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Even with blurred and distorted vision, Gary Hinze could still look at the cooked turkey on his table Thursday and feel safe. It wasn’t a goose, and it wasn’t on a kamikaze mission toward his head.

That alone was plenty to make him thankful Thursday, but the Penn Valley man has also maintained his sense of humor and ability to keep writing songs.

He already has lyrics in mind, such as “Lord, don’t goose me now, and if you do, yell ‘Duck!”

“If you can’t take it as a divine sign of God, you got to take it as a joke,” he said Wednesday. “Comedy comes from tragedy.”

Tragedy struck the 58-year-old man on the morning of Nov. 1. It struck in the form of a large goose that crashed through the windshield of his van as he approached Bear River on Highway 49.

Before he could blink, the bird folded over his steering wheel, struck the right side of Hinze’s face and slammed against the van’s rear door, leaving blood spatter. Glass shards stuck to his face, including his right eye.

Hinze figured the combined speeds at impact were about 100 mph, given he was driving 65 mph toward his parcel delivery job in Auburn. Whatever the velocity, it was enough to fracture his right cheekbone, his upper jaw and his eye socket. His eye has cornea damage and possible retina damage.

Hinze safely pulled his van to the shoulder, got out and waved a towel for help while holding another towel to his eye.

“I think that adrenaline helped me stay conscious and bring the vehicle safely to a stop,” he said. “Then I got ticked off. That was the third windshield I put in that truck.”

Around that time he peered into his van to see what hit him.

“It actually frightened me, it was so big,” he said.

After what seemed like forever, a woman pulled over to help Hinze, and she called 911. Though he never got her name, he still wants to thank her.

While grateful, Hinze still hopes for restored vision, but his doctors aren’t making promises. They also told him to take it easy another two to three weeks.

Hinze has improved, though. Early on he couldn’t see images with his right eye, only light, and he suffered from vertigo, nausea and headaches. Now he sees images, but they’re blurry and warped.

“If I look at a van, it’s longer and lower and has a big dip in the top of the roof. Just distorted,” he said.

Nearly as worse, the accident has put a dent in his musical career. Much of his income comes from his one-man band act, which he performs in Nevada casinos.

He hopes to be back soon, and he plans to be on the air for his radio show, which features live music, on KVMR at 10 p.m. Sunday. Because he can still write music, listen for his eventual lyrical version of the freak experience.

“The goose turned my face into pate,” he said. “These will all be lines in an upcoming song, of course.”

The humor has rubbed off on his wife, Sandie Hinze, a clerk in Nevada County Superior Court. She’s cried over Gary’s injuries, and she must remember to hug him on his left side to avoid hurting his right cheek. But she hasn’t lost perspective.

“You can wallow in your self-pity, or you can laugh and keep yourself going,” she said.

Gary Hinze said many people have asked him whether he planned to eat the goose. In the chaotic aftermath, it never crossed his mind, and Animal Control has long-since removed that option.

Instead, he sat down for dinner Thursday and appreciated what was on the table and so much more.

“I’m thankful that I’m not worse off than I could have been – or dead,” he said. “I’m thankful that I have loving friends and family to support me.”

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