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Cannon fires real ammo during Tall Ships parade, two women shot

Tall Ship-Shell Injury

AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Leonard Ortiz

This Sept. 7, 2012 photo shows the Washington state-based Amazing Grace during The Ocean Institute's annual Tall Ships parade in Dana Point, CA. Two people suffered minor injuries during a the festival on Saturday, Sept. 8, when a shotgun shell was loaded into a cannon and fired at the Oxnard-based Bill of Right during a mock battle.

Photo by Dale Frost/Port of San Diego via Flickr Creative Commons

Festival of Sail 2011 - The Bill of Rights enters San Diego Bay during the tall ship parade.


A high-seas battle reenactment during The Ocean Institute's annual Tall Ships parade in Dana Point left two women injured Saturday when they were hit with real ammunition -- buckshot was loaded into one ship's cannon instead of blanks.

Authorities told the OC Register that two people aboard the Bill of Rights were hit with cannon fire when The Amazing Grace, a tall ship based in Gig Harbor, Wash., fired at the vessel.

One of the women hit, Bill of Rights deckhand Donna Reed, said she and volunteer Laura Huber were struck by multiple pellets, but did not hold a grudge against the crew of The Amazing Grace.

"It was like a scene from 'The Exorcist'," Reed told the  L.A. Times. "I started to bleed in several different areas."

Reed said she was still sore days after the accident, and that some of the pellets remained in her leg because doctors said it was safer than removing them.

Both ships would normally use small cannons with blank charges that look like common shotgun shells. It was not clear how the buckshot ended up getting loaded into the cannon.

Orange County sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Krause told the Register her department is awaiting the outcome of an investigation before deciding whether to pursue charges of negligent discharge.

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