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Madison Bruneau is shown in a photo taken at her aunt's wedding Friday night and one taken Sunday after three hours of surgery. (FAMILY HANDOUTS)

Madison Bruneau is shown in a photo taken at her aunt's wedding Friday night and one taken Sunday after three hours of surgery.

Police seek source of high-speed projectile


NORTHBRIDGE- On Friday night, 9-year-old Madison Bruneau was laughing and dancing at her aunt's wedding. Twenty-four hours later, she was in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital Boston with a shattered orbital socket, bone fragments in her brain that nearly severed her retinal nerve and possible permanent vision damage after she was hit in the head with a high-velocity projectile while walking with her father at Lookout Rock.

Police are investigating, and family members and friends are hoping someone might have some information on what may have hit Madison and who may have done it.

"Whether this was a mistake, I don't know, but teenagers need to be aware that someone innocent can get hurt," said Julie Daoust, a close family friend. "This was such an unfortunate accident that we want people to know about it."

Ms. Daoust said teens have been known to frequent the area, and she speculates they may have unintentionally harmed Madison by firing the projectile.

In the waning days of her summer vacation, Madison was visiting with her father, Roy Graham, Saturday. Madison, who loves animals and the outdoors, had implored her father to take her hiking, so the two headed off to Lookout Rock late Saturday afternoon, not far from his Uxbridge home.

Lookout Rock is a forested area straddling the Northbridge-Uxbridge town line.

As she walked along, Madison playfully howled like a dog. Off in the distance, her howls were answered - and encouraged - and she continued to play along, Ms. Daoust said.

In a moment that had no warning, there was a rustling in the leaves around the father and daughter, and then Madison was on the ground, screaming, clutching her head and bleeding profusely.

Mr. Graham called for help on his cell phone about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and the girl was taken from the woods into an ambulance. Because of the severity of the injury, she was taken by Life Flight helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center - University Campus in Worcester, and was later flown to Children's Hospital Boston, where she underwent a three-hour reconstructive surgery.

No one knows what struck Madison, or where it came from. They only know what has resulted: Madison's orbital socket - the bone above her left eye - was shattered. Bone fragments lodged in her brain and nearly severed the retinal nerve in her eye, and her upper sinus cavity has been destroyed, according to family and friends. There are concerns that her vision may be permanently damaged, but doctors will not know until the swelling in her brain goes down.

As Madison is being treated, family and friends are talking about the incident, hoping that someone may know what happened - what struck her and who may be responsible.

Police Chief Walter Warchol said his department is investigating the incident, and canvassed the neighborhood after Madison was hurt. But as of last night they had no suspects, he said.

Madison lives with her parents, Jessica and Tom Bruneau, in Uxbridge and is the second of five children. She was looking forward to starting fourth grade this week, Ms. Daoust said."Madison is just the sweetest little girl," Ms. Daoust said. "Even in the hospital, the nurse was telling me last night that she asked Madison a question, and she replied, 'Yes, please.' She can hardly talk, but she was able to put that little 'please' in there."

"We just want to know what happened," Ms. Daoust said.

Anyone with information on what may have happened in the woods near Lookout Rock Saturday afternoon is urged to call police at (508 234-6211.
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