On Friday afternoon (November 25), a father and son from West Virginia were making their way home from a day of deer hunting. Rather than taking a car or truck, they decided on a slightly more exciting vehicle for their trip: their side-by-side UTV. That said, taking the UTV didn’t come without drawbacks.
First, they would have to carry their guns in the cab with them, as they had no truck bed in which to transport them. Second, while UTVs are perfect for the type of rough terrain they planned to navigate, they’re also made to bump and rattle along uneven roads, the suspension system working to keep the vehicle upright and running in any situation.
Unfortunately, those two things don’t mix, especially when traveling with two loaded guns. And as they picked their way down the uneven road from their hunting spot near Alum Creek, one of the rifles went off. According to witnesses, a single round went through the 39-year-old father’s arm and into his stomach.
“They were riding off the hill on a side-by-side,” local resident Charles Holstein explained to WCHS. “They had the guns and I guess they hit a bump or something and the gun went off and hit him.”
Terrified for his father’s life, the young man called 911 before racing toward the main road to meet emergency crews. Doing his best to remain calm, the father got out of the UTV and laid down near the road to wait for the ambulance to arrive.
West Virginia DNR Respond to Hunting Accident
Upon their arrival, emergency crews transported the father from Brouland Road to a nearby hospital for treatment, where he’s now in stable condition. Until recently, this incident would have resulted in a citation. It was illegal for hunters to carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in a vehicle. Now, however, the law has changed, placing more responsibility on hunting parties to use good judgment while traveling with guns.
Following the accidental shooting, DNR officer Chuck Holloran spoke out on the change. “You do not have to unload your weapon. That law changed this year, and I think that may have contributed to the injuries today,” he told WSAZ.
“We’re still trying to determine exactly how the gun went off,” he explained. “It could have been some clothing or a jar, but we’re still trying to determine that.”
Obviously, those who choose not to unload their guns after hunting need to exercise extra caution to prevent incidents such as this from occurring. “Use common sense if you are going to have a loaded weapon in your vehicle or side by side,” Holloran urged. “Make sure it is in a safe place where it is not going to accidentally go off through rough terrain. Clothing or something could roll around and even hit it.”