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CA: Rabbit Hunter Shot In Hand

June 24, 2010

Mendocino County rabbit hunter shot in hand

A Mendocino County man out shooting jackrabbits by flashlight late Wednesday night was accidentally shot in the hand by his cousin and seriously injured, authorities said.

Kyler Cranford, 22, may face reconstructive surgery after being struck at close range by a round from a .22-caliber rifle, Mendocino County sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said.

The Hopland man and his cousin, Lance Piffero, also 22, were riding in a Jeep on the Cranford family's ranch off Highway 175 at 10 p.m. Wednesday when the incident occurred, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.

Cranford had the gun, but was at the wheel of the Jeep so he passed it to his cousin in the passenger seat, Smallcomb said. Though they initially planned to shoot raccoon, they decided on jackrabbits instead.

Cranford extended his left hand with a flashlight out his window to illuminate their prey. Piffero, a Redwood Valley resident, aimed the scope-mounted .22 from the passenger's side out the driver's window, Smallcomb said.

He'd fired two or three rounds from the moving Jeep before one of them struck his cousin in the hand, Smallcomb said.

Authorities were notified around 10:30 p.m. after Cranford arrived at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center emergency room.

He was no longer at the hospital Thursday morning, though it was unclear if he had been moved to another hospital or discharged.

Smallcomb said the case would be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for determination whether charges for shooting from a motorized vehicle should be filed against Piffero.

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