Potato gun maims pianist: Neighbor’s Scout training helpful during emergency – Idaho State Journal

    POCATELLO — Paul Dial attributes his training as an Eagle Scout in his youth for the calm and cool approach he exhibited following the potato gun explosion that severely injured his neighbor, Idaho State University student Derek Schaible, Sunday afternoon.
    Dial said he was watching television when he heard the boom. “It was very loud. It shook the pictures on the wall,” said Dial. Running outside to the house next door, Dial heard a woman screaming and when he came upon Schaible and the woman, there was a pool of blood forming.
    When Schaible turned to face Dial he was covering his mutilated right hand with his left hand, saying, “What have I done, what have I done.”
    Dial said that he also observed shrapnel wounds in Schaible’s right leg and three fingers were missing, his little finger, ring finger and middle finger.
    Dial told the woman to get a towel, a chair and to call the police. She told Dial that she didn’t have a phone so Dial ran home and told his wife to call 911.
    Dial said that Schaible was bleeding profusely and was beginning to go into shock.
    Dial said he wanted to keep him outside because the cold weather would stall the effects of shock.
    Dial said that he held onto Schaible’s arm and applied a tourniquet with his hands to stop the bleeding.
    “I told him to keep his arm above his shoulder, to keep it above his heart,” said Dial.
    Dial said that his training as an Eagle Scout taught him that “you just have to use your common sense. Determine what the situation is and then react.”
    Schaible was rushed by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition Sunday night following surgery.
    The residents of the University Neighborhood at the corner of South 13th Avenue and East Lewis Street found their quiet on a rainy Sunday afternoon suddenly shattered by the percussive blast of the explosive device believed at first to be a pipe bomb but later determined to be a potato gun. Schaible had filled the gun with black powder and lit it, triggering the explosion, police said.
    Jeannie Vahsholtz, who lives across the street from Schaible, said she and her daughter had just finished watching a movie when she heard a loud explosion. Vahsholtz thought it was a gunshot and described it as loud as a sonic boom.
    “I looked out a window and I saw a man with a gun,” said Vahsholtz, “and then he put it down and walked between the house and the garage.”
    Vahsholtz saw her neighbor, Dial, run out of his home to assist the man she later found out was Schaible.
    Rick Ross and Bret Davis were watching the New York Jets-New England Patriots game on television when they heard the explosion.
    “It was like an M-80,” said Ross. “We got up and observed the individual running around the side of the house holding his hand in the air.”
    Davis said he saw a plume of smoke and Schaible was standing as if in a daze before he went around the side of the house.
    Schaible is an Idaho State University student majoring in music performance, according to ISU’s Web site. He was scheduled to play piano at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the nearby First United Methodist Church on Sunday night.
    The Rev. Janie Gebhardt, minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, asked those in attendance at the MLK celebration to say a prayer for Schaible.
    Gebhardt said that Schaible would often play piano at local church services. “I’m heart sick that this happened to such a talented young man,” said Gebhardt.
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What happened to this guy is horrible. Did anyone think for a second that maybe he was trying new ways to make his spud gun more efficient?Its possible folks. Reading your comments I was shocked at what was said.It just makes me wonder about the people in our town. Someone has a misfortune and people jump on it just to try to be right about whether its going to be a misdemeanor or a felony. Do people just not care for other people any more? A guy has an accident and he is called a terrorist? how ridiculous is that. And the comment about playing the piano and going to church and the thought that that helps you get away with things…grow up.
@Randomguy, go troll somewhere else. He probably will have charges levied against him. Although, it’s kind of like giving a reckless driving citation to someone that paralyzes themselves in a car wreck.
Sounds like if i played a piano and was active in the church that i could get away with murder
I know this man on a personal level and he is nothing near a terrorist. I believe he was just attempting to jury rig his potato gun with black powder, not considering the implication black powder could have on the integrity of what I’m assuming to be PVC pipe. And of course there was shrapnel; black powder plus anything could be shrapnel. PVC pipe, any metal framework, even bones become shrapnel in the hands of the right explosive. I don’t believe it’s anyone’s position to judge this young man, it’s clear he’s not only aware of the ramifications of his actions, but is paying for them. There was a reason he was looking at his hand saying, "What have I done?" when the man approached him.
My apologies for the way that sounded. It’s a horrible tragedy and I would hate to think it was anything other than an accident. Exploding black powder in a container is extremely dangerous and, in most cities, illegal to do in your back yard.
With regard to the ‘spud gun’ issue…Moloch and Bob both obviously have internet access. Go to ask.com, enter ‘spud gun kit’ and you will see that one of the very first entries lists a ‘combustable’ kit. It goes on to mention black powder specifically. Unless you are on expert on this kind of thing, then it’s quite possible you haven’t heard of it. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. From another source I understand they can also be fired using Ether. Another source lists compressed air as a firing device. Regardless, you are making judgements about a young man you apparently do not know. You are reading things into an article that are simply not there, not even between the lines. This young man was an accomplished pianist who played at many area churches. Anyone with the mind set of ‘conspiracy’ or ‘terrorism’ needs to get over the idea that he was ‘plotting and planning’ and find some compassion. This is a loss not only to Derek and the future he was planning, but to many individuals in the community who were lucky enough to enjoy his musical talent.
@BobS24: I don’t think that particular code applies here. You might be able to get away with saying it was a ‘destructive device’ but, "which by its design will propel shrapnel" implies intent. It implies that it was designed to propel shrapnel, which rules out things that were designed for another purpose and accidentally propel shrapnel when the device does not function properly. If this were not the case, this statute could apply to anyone with a hot water heater in their home, which if it malfunctions, can explode and propel shrapnel.
Now, on the other hand, I don’t really know that he was building a potato gun. I have never heard of using black powder for a potato gun either, its always compressed air since most materials cant contain the explosive pressure of black powder. For all I know, he could have been building a bomb and this was his first test detonation…
Sure, all his friends say he was an awesome guy, and he might be. But, pretty much any bomber, serial killer, etc has been the same way. If you would have asked anyone who knew one of these killers before they went on a rampage, all their friends would have said there is no way it could be them, that they are such a great person/student/whatever, blah blah. You never know that a person is capable of such destruction until after it happens…
Who here has not done something incredibly dangerous and gotten away with it by sheer luck? Stop being judgmental and start being compassionate. Criticism at this point isn’t helpful. Derek and is family need support to face the transitions ahead.
A spud gun with blackpowder? Where I come from, that’s called a pipe bomb. Spud guns that I have seen and heard of use compressed air or combustible gas (hair spray, etc.) as the propellent. Idaho Code 18-3319. "Any person who possesses a bomb or destructive device which by its design will propel shrapnel is guilty of a felony." There is no requirement for intent.
I’ve never heard of using blackpowder in a spud gun. Perhaps the Journal should ask the Poc Police or prosecutor what the difference between a "spud gun" and a "pipe bomb" is. Idaho Code 18-3319 says, "Any person who possesses a bomb or destructive device which by its design will propel shrapnel is guilty of a felony."
I have seen KITS for these Potato guns, made right here in Idaho, for sale online. I have seen a TV show featuring these same potato guns, loaded with black powder that the person firing it took from shot gun shells. Derek may have been mistaken to try to fire this within city limits (assuming he lives within them), but it is a mistake many people make. How many people buy what are deemed illegal fireworks from sources outside of Pocatello, fireworks that leave the ground, and light them off each year? And how many people think absolutely nothing of it? I would ask that instead of condemning Derek for his mistake, you instead look at what he and ANYONE who ever heard his remarkable piano or organ playing have LOST! His life has been altered by this, and he has a very new life ahead of him. Keep him in your prayers and thoughts, and be careful to never make the same kind of mistake yourself.
I don’t think you’re (proper form) reading it right. I think that Student was just pointing out that a pianist losing fingers is quite a severe punishment, regardless of whether or not he brought it on himself. The impact to his livelihood is far greater than puritanically imposing a fine and probation, or even a little jail time.
Sure, he did something wrong. But according to this article, I see no indication of malicious intent. All I see is a young man who made a mistake. He didn’t hurt anyone else, thankfully. And yes, he was both literally, and figuratively burned. So he certainly didn’t get away with it.
Our best wishes for his recovery.
Derek may be a great guy but what does that have to do with he doing illegal activities? If I am reading this right your saying is that if I had a passion for music that I could get away with illegal activities? If your concerned with your career and where your going in life you don’t take risks that could “burn” you in the end.
What we all need to remember is that he detonated an explos
device in the city, charges should be filed against him. It doesn’t matter how great of a guy he is. We are lucky that he only hurt himself and not anybody else that was in the neighborhood.

Derek is a great guy, and a very talented student. People should be less concerned with charges being filed against him and more concerned with how this will effect his career and passion in music. This was a horrible accident. Our thoughts and prayers will be focussed on him.
Thank you for printing a retraction. Derek was not making a pipe bomb. He is a good kid, and will appreciate the support of his friends and family to get through this hard time.
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