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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2007

FL: Father kills son in apparent hunting accident

October 04, 2007

By MELANIE STAWICKI AZAM
Staff Writer

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- A 21-year-old man was shot and killed by his father in what was an apparent hunting accident in the western part of the city, police said Wednesday.

Steven Austin was found dead Tuesday night off State Road 44, a couple of miles west of Interstate 95.

The victim's father, Wilson Austin, 52, told police he accidentally shot his son, according to New Smyrna Beach police detective Cmdr. Wade Kirby.

No charges have been filed, Sgt. Mike Brouillette said Wednesday. Police would not say how the shooting happened or where on his body Steven Austin was shot.

"The father was very distraught last night," Kirby said. He said police still don't have all the details yet and are continuing to investigate the incident, which involved a rifle.

About 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office was notified about a distraught man walking along S.R. 44 near O'Reilly Road who was later identified as Wilson Austin, Kirby said.

The father told officers of a hunting injury north of S.R. 44 in the woods. Steven Austin was found dead after that, Kirby said.

Police are still investigating when the shooting actually occurred, Kirby said. He said the Austins parked their vehicle off S.R. 44 and walked more than a mile into the woods on private land north of S.R. 44 between Airport Road and Samsula Drive.

Police are also investigating whether the Austins had permission to hunt on the property. Kirby said the father and son appeared to be the only people nearby.

It's archery season and about the only animals legal to hunt with a firearm this time of year are hogs, on private property, said Joy Hill, spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Brouillette said he didn't know what the men were hunting.

A woman who answered the door Wednesday at Wilson Austin's house in rural Samsula, where Steven Austin also lived, said no one in the family wanted to talk about the shooting.

Although Samsula is known to be a tight-knit community, it was difficult to find people who knew the Austins well, including some of their neighbors living on the same winding dirt road, Watermelon Lane.

Wilson Austin works at the city's Utilities Commission in the electric department, but no more information about him was available Wednesday.

Wilson Austin was arrested in 1982 on a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling, but that charge was dropped, court records show.

Mike Thomas, a retired Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife officer and president of the Miami Tract Hunt Club, said safety is always a concern when hunting. He said he did not personally know the Austins and they were not members of the hunt club, which leases hunting rights on the 52,000-acre Miami Land Corp. property in southern Volusia County

But Thomas, who is also mayor of Edgewater, said his club's 261 members are required to wear fluorescent orange clothing whenever hunting on the ground with dogs to try to avoid such tragedies.

"That's when most accidents happen," he said. "It's like a split-second reaction."

melanie.stawicki@news-jrnl.com

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