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Hunter Shoots Hiker

posted November 25, 2002
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21-year old Matthew Bryant from Union County, Georgia has been charged after he accidentally shot a Cartersville teenager on the Appalachian Trail. Fortunately the young girl was not killed.

Bryant has been formally charged with misuing a firearm. Bryant turned himself in to authorities Monday.

The felony charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Authorities say Bryant thought he was shooting at a deer. 16-year-old Rachel Ferguson remains at St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta in serious but stable condition.

Union County Sheriff Scott Stephens said Bryant had ``limited hunting experience.'' He says the man was legally licensed, and was hunting in an authorized area when he shot the girl about 6:45 a-m Sunday.

The hiker was with a group of about 15 -- including adults and other teens -- who had hiked in along the trail and camped Saturday night. Authorities say she was hit when she left the campsite and walked about 200 feet.

Johnson said the hunter was about 70 yards from what he believed to be a deer and fired a shot, which hit the girl.

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