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A U.S. Thanksgiving hunting trip turned into tragedy over the weekend when an 11-year-old girl was accidentally shot and killed by her father.
Police in East Texas responded to a hunting lease in the city of Hallsville after they received multiple frantic 911 calls Saturday evening.
They found the girl, later identified by police as Daisy Grace Lynn George, suffering from life-threatening injuries.
Her father told officials that he had tried to clear the hammer of his hunting rifle, thinking the gun was unloaded, when his daughter was shot, reports CBS-19.
Police tried to radio for a helicopter, but all flights were grounded due to bad weather.
Instead, Daisy was taken to hospital by ground, where she later succumbed to her injuries.
Daisy’s school, Hallsville Junior High, asked its staff and students to wear the sixth-grader’s favourite colour, purple, to school on Monday.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Harrison Country Sheriff Brandon Fletcher said a poor cellphone connection prevented Daisy’s father, Travis George, from communicating well with emergency officials. First responders were able to eventually find his location after he used a siren to guide them.
The sheriff also clarified that the rifle was on the front seat of Travis’s car and Daisy was likely climbing into the car when she was shot.
Travis told authorities he thought he had loaded four cartridges into the gun, and had fired two while hunting from a stand. He expelled another two after hunting, near his car. But when he went to clear the hammer a shot was fired.
“Anytime a young person loses their life, it’s tragic for all involved,” Fletcher stated in the news release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends during this difficult time.”
Police said they are still investigating, but said that they believe the shooting was accidental and have no plans to charge the father at this time.
A GoFundMe for the family describes Daisy as “a joker” who loved the outdoors and tried “to lift everyone’s spirits.”
Fletcher stressed the importance of gun safety during his press conference, reminding gun owners that they should always treat their guns as loaded, and that hunters should always know their location in case of emergency.
“It’s very unfortunate the way it turned out and I hope we don’t see another (death),” Fletcher said.