WATERVILLE — A Waterville man who accidentally shot off part of his face with a high-powered hunting rifle was in stable condition at a Boston hospital Thursday night, according to his father.

“His vital signs are good, although he will need reconstructive surgery for his facial wounds,” Donald Poulin, of Winslow, said by phone from Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dale Poulin, 31, of Ash Street, was visiting friends at 218 College Ave. around 9 p.m. Wednesday and exchanging hunting stories when he went outside and brought in a .270-caliber hunting rifle. At one point, Poulin put the barrel of the rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey.

Poulin’s father said although his son is unable to speak, he can respond to questions by writing on a notepad and told his father that he accidentally dropped the rifle. Dale Poulin had been hunting during the day Wednesday before the accident that night, his father said.

Massey said Poulin believed the rifle was not loaded and that he had no intention of committing suicide.

Massey said the accident illustrates the dangers of improperly and unsafely handling firearms.

“It was one of those cases which clearly involved carelessness, passing a rifle around, and no one made sure, obviously, it was not loaded. And then they do something as careless as putting the rifle under their chin and pulling the trigger,” he said.

He said the other people at the scene are known to police, but officers have determined no foul play was involved and the shooting was accidental.

Poulin was taken initially by Delta Ambulance to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus, then flown by helicopter to a Portland hospital to undergo surgery, Massey said. He was then transferred to the Boston hospital for further surgery.

People at the scene said Poulin had come to visit earlier in the night and had walked in with a bottle of whiskey, Massey said. “Guns and alcohol – they just don’t mix,” he said. “Dangerous combination.”

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, called the shooting horrific and tragic and an incident everyone can learn from.He said the first rule of safety is to always treat a firearm as if it is loaded and never assume it is not.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this report. 

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