- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon woman was hospitalized in serious condition after she was shot by her husband, a former sheriff who has dementia.

Officers from The Dalles responded to a report of an accidental shooting about 9 a.m. Saturday and found Darlena “Dee” Hill with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Oregon State Police said in a news release.

Hill, 75, had surgery at Mid-Columbia Medical Center and was in serious condition late Saturday afternoon, the release states.

Though the investigation isn’t complete, detectives think the gun fired while 76-year-old Darrell Hill was handling a weapon he mistakenly thought was unloaded. He was not arrested.

The Wasco County Major Crimes Team is handling the investigation.

Darrell Hill was elected Wasco County sheriff in 1996 and served two terms. Before that, he was police chief in The Dalles, a Columbia River city 85 miles east of Portland.

A September article in The Dalles Chronicle said he was diagnosed the year before with rapid progressive dementia and eventually needed a wheelchair. The article said he had worked in law enforcement for more than 40 years and had been a certified firearms instructor for the FBI and the National Rifle Association.

Darlena Hill, a teenager when she married Darrell, told the paper that what her husband has is usually fatal in six to 12 months and it was hard to accept that each day could be his last.

“He sees people. He recognizes faces. He will greet them. He will talk to them,” she said in September. “But unless you follow him around, you don’t realize it’s always the same greeting, comments, conversation with each one of them. But he still wants to have contact.”

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