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SD: Woman killed by hunter while sitting in car

October 29, 2009

Magnets urge hunter safety
Gregory County fatality shows need for reminder

In the wake of a fatal hunting accident in Gregory County, friends and family of another slain hunter are urging others to be firearm safe by handing out bright red magnets.

On Saturday, 26-year-old Leonila Stickney died in a hunting-related accident, according to Sheriff Charlie Wolf. Stickney was a passenger in a vehicle when a friend's shotgun accidentally fired, striking her in the chest. The friend had just returned from shooting a pheasant.

The 5-inch magnets, shaped like a stop sign, sport the message, "STOP Unload Before Entering."

"With the recent news of another life lost due to a loaded gun in a vehicle, we felt the need to bring awareness to a cause we have been working on for the past several months," said Sharon Knoll, a member of the O'Neal Open Team, which is made up of family and friends of Lanny O'Neal, a 40-year-old Brandon resident killed nearly a year ago when a rifle went off in a vehicle while he was deer hunting.

"We thought about what we could do quickly and was a good way to get the message out to people," she added. "If they see it on their car, they're more likely to remember."

The free magnets are available at local hunting shops across the state, including Sheels and Cabela's, as well as area Get & Go convenience stores. More than 10,000 have been handed out in the past two weeks.

"We decided we wanted to do something good from a horrible accident," Knoll said. "Bring something good out of bad."

Money to make the magnets came from an August golf tournament at the Brandon Municipal Golf Course, as well as assistance from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department.

"We're very much behind this effort," said Curt Robinson, GF&P HuntSAFE program coordinator. "We need to get that message across, and the magnets are just one more reminder for people to unload that firearm before they get into their vehicle."

South Dakota has no law requiring guns to be kept in cases or unloaded while in vehicles. "But it's something we stress in our hunter safety courses," Robinson said.

The magnets, which Knoll and Robinson are encouraging hunters to keep on their vehicles at all times, are just another way to remind people to be safe while in the field.

"We're hoping to focus on the longtime hunter who might be out there and maybe has forgotten some of the safety rules," Knoll said. "Anyone can forget.".

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