Creek County hunting accident fatality

Monday, November 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Justin White had begged for weeks to go hunting. But, when he climbed out of his deer stand, he dropped his loaded shotgun. The gun went off and Justin was hit in the leg, he died a short time later.

News on Six reporter Steve Berg talked with the people who knew Justin best. Don Daugherty says Justin and his mom came to stay with him and his sons about seven months ago. He says they'd had a tough family life up to that point, but that Justin was a good, responsible kid in spite of it all. "He did all the things that most kids y'know, in his predicament and all, wouldn't do right through what he's seen and gone through in life."

At 13, Don says Justin, or Bubba as everyone called him, was already more than six-feet tall. And even though he went to Keystone Elementary, he made the Mannford football team. But he says what Justin really wanted was to go hunting. Before they left Don says he told Justin repeatedly to unload the gun before climbing down. But for some reason Saturday, Justin simply forgot. "It was a single shot shotgun and one of the only kind of guns if you drop on the butt, it will go off and he took two steps, and I said,"Bubba did you unload the gun, and no more did it come out of my mouth, the shot went off."

But friends say what seems most cruel is that when Justin and his mom moved in with Don's family, they were finally happy. "And then just lose him over a freak accident, people don't know what life is, they don't know what life is, it just don't happen, it shouldn't have. God wanted something good to come out of this, I don't know what it is, but I do know Bubba was a good kid and nobody could have been more prouder of him than I was for being his dad. I mean for the short time that I got to be his dad I know that he was happy.”

Game Wardens urge hunters to follow some safety guidelines. Always unload your gun before climbing into or out of a tree stand. Never climb with a gun. Instead, tie a rope or cord to the stock end of the gun and pull it up and down. Take a hunter safety course.