The fuse went out and Lucky swam in panic until she was exhausted. Lucky's "owner", 18 year old Nicholas Sigmon, a lifeguard at that very lake, jumped in the water and retrieved her.
Once back on the dock, Sigmon, Paul Collins, Collins' brother and their friends, debated a second explosion attempt while a soaked and terrified Lucky lay at their feet. They decided against it as the fuse was now too short and they would risk injuring themselves. The evenings' "fun" was over and Sigmon took his pet rabbit home.
Nicholas Sigmon, a resident of San Leandro, CA, had plans to go to college in the fall to become a biologist and would no longer be able to care for Lucky. Weeks before the incident at Lake Don Castro in San Leandro CA, Sigmon informed a co-worker of his intentions to explode Lucky. According to the police report, the co-worker said that Sigmon talked about it but that he (Sigmon) also mentioned eating the rabbit. The co-worker encouraged Sigmon to find a home for Lucky but his advice did not deter Sigmon from continuing with his plans to kill his pet rabbit in a most brutal and sadistic fashion.
Documenting the incident was Sigmon’s downfall.
One of Sigmon's friends posted the photographs of Lucky at the lake in his online journal. One of the photos shows Lucky swimming far from the dock. It was captioned, "poor fucking bunny". Another photo shows Nick Sigmon, Paul Collins and three others, clustered around Lucky as they attached the explosive. Its caption reads: "after standing around for a few minutes waiting for the boom and ews, nothing happened, she was just swimming around. now this rabbit had a shitload of duct tape on it so it couldn't really swim that long...and it wasn’t long before it stopped moving and started to sink. nick dove heroically into the dirtshit water with his weighted shorts on and rescued her. one tough ass rabbit."
On July 19, a compassionate acquaintance anonymously posted the following message on www.craigslist.org, a San Francisco based online community bulletin board:
THERE ARE TEENS WHO HAVE TIED A BUNNY TO A M100, PLEASE HELP!!! (san leandro)
This bunny is going to die. I do not know what to do about it. Please please please respond to this journal and make sure this bunny stays alive.
How can someone be this sick to tie a bunny up and wait for him to explode? What did this poor bunny ever do?
The message and photographs quickly came to the attention of a House Rabbit Society volunteer who immediately contacted the East Bay Regional Parks Police. Simultaneously, the police were contacted by the Parks Supervisor advising them that several lifeguards had been involved in the incident.
The EBRP detectives acted quickly. They took the photos to the Aquatics Supervisor who identified 4 of the 5 people in a photograph as lifeguards at Lake Don Castro. The photographs were removed from the internet and interviews were conducted.
A Park Ranger had found a long length of duct tape on the ground near the dock. The Police report states,"...the duct tape had a large amount of distinctive fur adhered to the sticky portion of the duct tape. He said the fur was brown, white and grey colored. The Park Ranger told me he did not know why the fur was attached to the tape, but he believed something bad had happened with the tape."
Detectives obtained a Search and Seizure warrant for Nicholas Sigmon's house where they confiscated Lucky from Sigmon's bedroom.
During the subsequent interview, Sigmon insisted that the entire incident was a joke, intended to upset one of their former girlfriends. He said they planned to fake lighting the fuse, let Lucky swim around a bit and photograph her. He said they wrapped the tape around Lucky in such a fashion that none of the sticky portion was touching her body. Sigmon said that Lucky was shedding and that some of her fur stuck to the tape regardless. He said that they never lit the fuse.
On July 28, Nicholas Sigmon and Paul Collins were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. According to Deputy District Attorney Steve Dal Porto, they were not charged with felonies because neither has a criminal history and Lucky escaped injury.
According to the SF Chronicle, "Asked why the group decided to tape an illegal M-1000 -- a huge firecracker equivalent to a quarter of a stick of dynamite -- to the animal, Sigmon replied, "Um, that's a real tough question to answer."
House Rabbit Society received custody of Lucky, where she was in quarantine for the standard 3 week period. She was spayed and placed in a foster home.
On July 13, 2004, six people met at a prearranged location near a Northern California lake. One person brought duct tape and a pocketful of explosives. Another brought a video camera. The man who organized this summer evening gathering arrived carrying a pet rabbit he had found on the street.
The group went out onto a fishing pier. They duct-taped a quarter-stick of dynamite to the 4-pound defenseless bunny, lit the fuse and threw her into the water. They videotaped the entire incident, presumably hoping to document the rabbit being blown to smithereens.
The rabbit's name is Lucky and a lucky rabbit she is.
On August 12th, Sigmon and Collins pled "Not guilty". One week later, Lucky was adopted into her forever home.
HRS Shelter Director Erin Williams stated, "While Lucky suffered a shocking act of sadistic cruelty, I am thrilled that she has recovered and has found a wonderful, permanent home. Lucky will never again be tortured, suffer, or feel terror. Instead, she will be surrounded by a loving family who will give her the care, compassion, and respect that she deserves for the rest of her life."
While Lucky is enjoying her new home, HRS intends to push for the maximum sentencing for the individuals responsible for this horrific act of cruelty. Williams continues, "Any act of cruelty is flatly unacceptable. The use of live explosives, and the fact that the individuals documented their actions with a camera, is incredibly disturbing. It is imperative that they receive the strictest possible sentence for this atrocity. These individuals pose a serious threat to other animals, and they must be held responsible."
Lucky's guardian says she hopes that the defendants take responsibility for their actions and that the importance of the incident isn't reduced because Lucky wasn't killed or seriously injured.
If you would like to help make sure that Lucky’s case is given the attention it deserves here’s what you can do to help:
Please write to the District Attorney and request vigorous prosecution of this case. Ask that his office work to ensure convictions for Nicholas Sigmon and Paul Collins and that maximum sentencing be pursued.
Alameda County District Attorney
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland CA 94612
Be sure to add the defendants’ names and case numbers:
Nicholas Sigmon: 376959a
Paul Collins: 376959b
Request that a copy of your letter be attached to the Probation Reports for both Sigmon and Collins.