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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2005

Youth shot by friend in hunting accident

01 August 2005

A 17-year-old Hawke's Bay youth preparing for a hunting trip was shot in the neck yesterday by a friend who didn't realise the shotgun was loaded, police say.

The young man was taken to Hastings Hospital with shoulder and neck injuries and was lucky they were not life-threatening, Senior Sergeant Tony Dewhirst said.

"Two inches to the right and there could have been tragic consequences," Mr Dewhirst told NZPA.

"This kind of thing reinforces just how much care people need to take around firearms."

Police were considering whether to lay charges but Mr Dewhirst said the shooting was believed to be accidental.

He said the young man and two friends about the same age were in a rural sleepover hut preparing for a hunting trip when the incident happened.

"It appears that one of the youths pulled the trigger in the belief that the gun wasn't loaded," Mr Dewhirst said.

"He wasn't playing around or anything, but it shows that you need to treat all weapons as live at all times."

He believed one of the youths had a gun licence but didn't think that the person who pulled the trigger was licenced.

"We still have some investigations to do but we are looking at whether any charges will be laid," Mr Dewhirst said.

"There may be issues as to whether anybody was careless that need to be looked at and any issues regarding licences and supervision.

"There are circumstances where licence holders can supervise non-licence holders but we need to investigate exactly what the circumstances were in this case."

Mr Dewhirst said Hawke's Bay police dealt with a few accidental gun discharges a year but most were during hunting expeditions.

Two cases involving shootings on hunting trips are currently before the court.

Taupo man Bernard Lee, 50, has pleaded not guilty to careless use of a firearm causing the death of William Stanley Gillies, 54, during a deer hunting trip in the Pureroa Forest Park, west of Taupo, in early April. He is due to appear next in Rotorua District Court on September 7.

In the other case, Albert Hurihanganui, 32, has admitted a charge of careless use of a firearm causing injury after his 10-year-old nephew Anthony was shot in the stomach after he left a loaded rifle with his six-year-old son during a pig hunting expedition near Rotorua.

He is due to be sentenced in Rotorua District Court on August 24.

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