'I just didn't want to die': Dilworth man recovering from hunting accident

By all accounts from trauma experts, Mitch Amundson shouldn't be alive. There were moments following the accident he had no heartbeat or detectable blood pressure.

Mitch Amundson, Dilworth, spent 20 days in the hospital after a hunting accident during a coyote hunt contest near Jamestown, North Dakota in November. His heart stopped and he nearly lost all his blood before a helicopter and trauma team saved him. He will be home for Christmas.
Photo courtesy of the Amundson family

DILWORTH, Minn. — Christmas has a new meaning for a Dilworth man who's recovering from a November hunting accident near Jamestown, North Dakota.

By all accounts from trauma experts, Mitch Amundson shouldn't be alive. A bullet tore through his stomach area and came out the other side.

There were moments following the accident Mitch had no heartbeat or detectable blood pressure.

He lives to hunt; any season, any wild game.

"It's almost been part of our lives ever since we been little," Amundson said.


Everything seemed so normal on Nov. 25. "It was Black Friday," he recounts, as he and a friend took part in a coyote hunt contest outside Jamestown.

"Me and my teammate were on a stand, and we were in a gravel pit and one came out and we started shooting at it," Amundson recalled.

But after firing their rifles and hitting the coyote, the two went to check on the shot. That is when Amundson's hunting partner, using a 223 rifle, accidentally shot him.

"That's kind of where things went south," said Amundson, who suffered massive damage internally to his colon, intestine and bladder.

He was bleeding profusely and miles from a trauma center.

"I just kept thinking, like, I gotta get through this. I just don't want to be paralyzed, and I don't want to die," he said.

Deanna Amundson, Mitch Amundson's mother, said she got the words no mom ever wants to hear. "We have your son here in the emergency room, and he's in extreme critical condition," she recalled.

Emergency medical services got him to a Jamestown hospital, where a team kept him alive despite the poor odds.


Following emergency surgery, doctors were able to get Mitch Amundson on a helicopter bound for Sanford in Fargo.

But he coded on board the helicopter during the ride. It would be one of several times they thought they lost him.

"He attempted to die multiple times, but he is still around to tell the story," said Dr. Enej Gasevic, Sanford's Trauma Center chair.

Without the chopper, "I don't now if I would be here today," Mitch Amundson said.

Prior to surgery in Fargo, his blood pressure plummeted. It is believed, however, that the full-jacket 223 bullet saved him from immediate fatal injuries.

Deanna Amundson said an EMT told her in Jamestown that her son had 4 liters of blood in his abdomen. She went to Google and found out the human body holds 5.

"Most of the time, when somebody's heart stops because they're bleeding to death, they don't come back," said Gasevic, one of many surgeons who operated on Mitch.

Brain damage was also a big concern after his heart stopped on numerous occasions.


Mitch's condition was as critical as it gets when he landed in Fargo. Getting into the only Level 1 trauma center between Minneapolis and Seattle meant he was in surgery at Sanford minutes after landing.

"It's just, it's surreal," said Mitch Amundson, who had several surgeries while going through liters of blood, at least four times his body volume.

"My baby's still here and he's him. You know, I didn't know if I would walk out of that hospital without a child, with a different child, or with my child. And I got mine back," Deanna Amundson said.

After 20 days in the hospital, a discharge. And then, a slow walk home. Mitch Amundson and his family are ready to celebrate Christmas, emotional and grateful.

"It's really nice, it's eye-opening. You can't take anything for granted," he said.

"This boy gets to celebrate two birthdays every year now. And so, that's all we care. Christmas is a miracle and so is he," Deanna Amundson said.

The long-term goal for Mitch is to be back hunting in spring of 2023. In the meantime, LendAHandUp has organized a fundraiser for him.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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