Hunter Injured After Rifle Accidentally Discharged

BIG FLATS – A Pine City man was injured after a rifle belonging to someone in his hunting party was accidentally discharged.

According to the Chemung County Sherif”s Office, on Sunday at around 12:49pm, deputies were called to state land located at 2734 State Route 352 in the Town of Big Flats for a reported shooting at that location.

On arrival, Sheriff’s Deputy Reece Miller located the victim, 41 year old James Rice of Pine City, and immediately rendered first aid to him by applying a tourniquet to a wound on Rice’s left arm.

The investigation revealed that a fellow hunter, 29 year old Christopher Dean of Wellsburg, had placed a loaded rifle against the fender of Rice’s truck. Dean then reportedly walked to the other side of the truck and heard a loud “bang”. When he went back to the opposite side of the truck, he discovered that Rice, who’d been standing 5-8 feet away, had been shot in his left forearm.

Police believe the rifle fell over on to the scope, which caused the rifle to fire in an upward trajectory at Rice, who was described as being “hunching over” near the driver’s side door when Dean first leaned the rifle against the truck.

Sheriff William Schrom notes that the rifle Dean was using, a Winchester Model 94 lever action 30-30, does not have a traditional safety mechanism. Once cocked, the bullet loads into the chamber and the hammer goes back. The hammer needs to be ridden forward while squeezing the trigger to render it “safe”, which police say Dean did not remember doing prior to leaning the rifle against the truck.

Because of the nature of his injury, Rice was flown by Guthrie Life Flight to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre for immediate treatment. He has since been life-flighted from Sayre to a hospital in Philadelphia for further treatment.

The Chemung County Sheriff’s Department was assisted on scene by the Department of Environmental Conservation, Erway Ambulance, and Big Flats Fire Department. West Elmira Fire Department also assisted by creating a landing zone behind their fire department where Rice was transported by ambulance to meet the helicopter.

Sheriff Schrom says potential charges are pending through the DEC and/ or the Sheriff’d Office once the case is reviewed further.

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