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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2007

FL: Jacksonville man dies in an apparently accidental shooting

By Teresa Stepzinski, The Times-Union

A Jacksonville man died in an accidental shooting during a weekend hunting trip with his older brother in northern Ware County.

Benjamin A. Crews, 22, sustained a gunshot wound to the neck from a handgun about 12:10 a.m. Saturday at the brothers' hunting camp in the Beach community, Capt. Peggy Guinn of the Ware County Sheriff's Office said.

Crews was found wounded in the front passenger seat of the truck by his 27-year-old brother who had heard the gunshot, Guinn said.

The elder brother, whose name wasn't available from authorities, took Crews to the nearest home in the 8800 block of Crawley Road to get help, she said.

It was too late, however, and Crews died at the scene. An autopsy will be performed today at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime laboratory in Savannah, county Coroner Atha Lucas said.

A preliminary investigation revealed the pistol accidentally discharged, Guinn and Lucas said.

The brothers regularly hunted in Ware County and had driven up Friday afternoon for a weekend hunt.

They had a camper trailer set up near Beach, Sheriff's Office Maj. Randy Royal said.

After returning to the camper for the evening, the brothers were preparing to unload their hunting gear from the pickup truck, Royal said.

Crews was attempting to get out of the truck when the pistol discharged striking him, Royal said.

It wasn't known if Crews had been holding the gun when it discharged or if it fell from somewhere inside the vehicle then fired, Guinn said.

Although no foul play is indicated, the death remains under investigation.

Georgia has averaged 73 hunting accidents including eight fatalities each year since 1979, state Department of Natural Resources records show.

Tree stand accidents and others resulting in self-inflicted injuries account for 72 percent of the total.

About 38 percent involve shooting accidents, according to the records.

However, people are 20 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than while hunting, U.S. National Safety Council statistics indicate.

teresa.stepzinski@jacksonville.com

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