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Vicksburg Teenager is Killed in Hunting Accident

By Sam Knowlton

[12/28/03] A Vicksburg teenager was killed Saturday morning when a rifle discharged and shot him accidentally while he was hunting in Tensas Parish, Sheriff Ricky Jones said.

Ernest "Ernie" Rials Jr., who was 16 and a 10th-grader at Vicksburg High School, was shot in the head by a rifle he was moving in the bed of a pickup on private hunting land, Jones said.

Tensas authorities were called at about 9:30 a.m., Jones said. The accident happened about three miles south of St. Joseph, the sheriff added. Jones said Ernie died instantly.

Tensas Coroner John Roberson said late Saturday he had ruled the death an accident.

Ernie was the son of Pete Rials and Vickie Lee and Tommy Crutchfield, all of Vicksburg. He lived with both his mother and his father at different times, a family friend said.

He was a football player at VHS, said head coach Alonzo Stevens.

"What a great young man," Stevens said of Ernie.

Coach Toriano Wells said he helped coach Ernie this past season.

"He was the type of kid who, in practice, would do all that you asked him to do without complaint," Wells said. "He gave you the best that he had, and he was a player who never stopped hustling."

A 12-year-old cousin of Rials' was in the bed of the truck with him when the accident happened, Jones said. No adults were in the truck, but the fathers of both boys, with whom the boys had been hunting, were nearby, Jones said.

Jones said he did not know what made the gun discharge.

Ernie had been hunting for several years and had killed a deer during the morning hunt, said Robert Rials of Vicksburg, Ernie's uncle.

Ernie was preceded in death by his grandfather, Willie D. Rials; and his grandparents, Charlie and Violet White.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his grandmother, June Aden Rials of Vicksburg; sisters Violet Rials, Lindsey Rials and Tiffany Crutchfield; and a brother, Tommy Crutchfield Jr.

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at Fisher Funeral Home with the Rev. Rick McAlister of New Vision Family Worship Center officiating. Burial will follow at Green Acres Memorial Cemetery.

Visitation will be from noon until the service at the funeral home.

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