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Target Shooter's Stray Bullet Hits, Kills Boy Driving By

Teen was fatally struck in the head as his family drove a few hundred yards away
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2018 4:02 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / poplasen)

(Newser) – As a Utah family went on a drive to take pictures of autumn leaves on Sunday afternoon, horror: "They heard an explosion in the back seat," a relative tells NBC News. "When my brother-in-law looked back he saw that his son was in his daughter’s lap and there was blood everywhere." Zackary Kempke, 14, had been shot and killed by a stray bullet. The family was driving through Ogden Canyon toward the Monte Cristo mountain range, a remote area popular for hunting and camping, and as they tried to find cell service to call 911, they stumbled upon a family target shooting a few hundred yards away; per KUTV, it was two parents and two children. Police say one of those shooters missed the trees they were aiming for, and the bullet instead went through the back window of the family's Jeep and hit Zackary in the head.

"The individual involved as well as witnesses stated that they did not know there was a road down range and could not see the vehicle as it traveled on the road due to thick brush and trees," Sheriff Dale Stacey wrote in a post on the Rich County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. The shooter has not been identified, but KSL reports it was a woman in the group who fired the shot. Zackary died instantly. Authorities are investigating and prosecutors will decide whether charges will be filed, but the relative says "there was no maliciousness" involved: The family, which planned to send the photos they took to an older son serving as a Mormon missionary, "believes wholeheartedly that it was an accident." He adds that the Kempkes, who also hunt and target shoot, have gone to the press in order to bring about awareness of gun safety: "You need to be 100% sure of where that bullet ends up when it leaves that barrel. If you don't know, don't shoot." (Read more shooting stories.)

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