U.P. man accidentally shot in the face 17 years ago is still in an insurance battle

GWINN — A local family is touched after the community has banded together to help them in their time of need.

At 13, many kids are living a relatively worry–free life, excited about their future and getting ready to start high school. But for local resident Rob Lemay, the year was met with an accident that would change his life.

When Lemay was 13, he and a few friends were playing around with some guns when one accidentally fired. That bullet went in through his right cheek and out the left, leaving him battling for his life.

Lemay was in the hospital for several months following the accident and received 10 different surgeries to gain function in his face again including reconstructive surgeries and bone grafts. Lemay recovered and healed in the 17 years since his last surgery, but in November of last year, the trauma and pain returned when the metal plate holding his jaw in place broke in half. Two doctors insisted nothing was wrong, but a third opinion confirmed his suspicions; a broken plate.

“We actually got a denial letter from his first surgery that he just had in January that Friday before his surgery on Monday and they denied him and said it was not medically necessary to have this surgery,” said Lemay’s wife, Nicole. “His surgeon actually went video with his insurance company and told them verbatim what was being done.”

After two months of waiting, Lemay finally received the surgery last month to piece his jaw back together, but this was only half the battle. His insurance company has deemed his next surgery as cosmetic and it wouldn’t be covered.

That’s when family friends Dan and Connie Foress got involved. The duo have been working to help raise donations to help pay off the first surgery and start saving for the second. The couple said that the Lemay family is incredibly deserving and can’t wait to bring them some peace.

“Just this past Christmas, I had a party at my house and she [Nicole] volunteered to bartend at my house,” said Connie Foress. “She made $150 worth of tips and even though she has five kids, and is barely making it by, she adopted a family to give somebody else Christmas. It tells you what type of people they are.”

A benefit dinner will be held at the Happy Hour Bar in Gwinn at 4 p.m.on March 25 where there will be plenty of food and lots of raffle give–aways. “So how does that make you feel, knowing that the community is coming together and helping out?” ABC Ten’s Chelsea Birdsall asked.

“Pretty awesome. I don’t know. I didn’t think so many people would care about something like that. But I guess there’s a lot of people out there that care,” Lemay replied. On top of that, the bartenders working the dinner will be donating their wages to the family.

“I think that we have such a great community behind us,” Nicole said. “I think people don’t realize how much they’re impacting our lives and our kids lives, donating all of this to us, just to get him to a point in his life where he can put this behind him.”

The Lemay’s have used the accident as a way to educate their five children on gun safety.

“All of our kids know gun safety. All kids should know gun safety. I don’t think it’s something anyone should be scared of,” Nicole said. “It’s not something any of our kids area scared of. Our kids know the damage that it did to their dad and they always say dad is hard to kill now.”