Cheery, comfortable columns about enjoying our great outdoors this holiday season will have to take a back seat this week to a heart-breaking story.
It’s painful news. It’s terrible news. Still, it’s a story that should be told. Hopefully, prayerfully, it will remind hunters to practice gun safety, perpetually, whether you hunt alone, with family or with friends.
Daisy Grace Lynn George, 11, of Hallsville, Texas, was shot Nov. 27 in “a tragic accident” after a deer hunting trip with her father. They weren’t in the woods or in a deer stand but getting ready to go back home, Harrison County Sheriff Brandon Fletcher said.
The father and his daughter hunted for about two hours in a deer stand, called it a day late in the afternoon and went back to his pickup truck near the intersection of Young and Hickey Road just east of Hallsville, the sheriff said.
Fletcher said the father believed he loaded four cartridges into the .30-30 rifle. They fired two while hunting and the father ejected two at the vehicle, and he believed the rifle was empty at that point, according to the sheriff.
The sheriff said the rifle was laying on a seat. Daisy was just about to get in the pickup truck or had just got in it when her father tried to drop the hammer on the rifle, the report said. The firearm discharged just after 5 p.m. and the bullet hit the girl who suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the report.
Her father immediately called 911. However, his repeated cell phone calls kept dropping in the rural area.
“Dispatch had a hard time keeping communication with the person. … The phone kept disconnecting. We had quite the trial of finding where he was,” Fletcher said in a press conference Nov. 29.
It took approximately eight minutes to locate the girl and her father, he said. Deputies and EMS units arrived at the grim scene.
Officials requested an emergency helicopter flight but inclement weather in the region grounded all helicopters. The Sheriff’s Office, Hallsville Police Department, Texas State Police, Longview, Texas, Police Department and Greg County blocked intersections so the ambulance could travel unimpeded to Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.
“She was in pretty bad condition at that time. And once at the hospital, was later pronounced deceased,” the sheriff said.
Two sentences from her obituary help describe the girl: “Daisy loved the outdoors. She loved catching frogs, playing soccer with her friends and siblings, but what made her day was going hunting and fishing with her dad.”
Daisy attended Hallsville Junior High School. Staff members and students throughout the Hallsville Independent School District were urged to wear purple in honor of her favorite color.
The Sheriff’s Office coordinated grief counselors with the school system.
Daisy would have been 12 on Jan. 7.
“Any time a young person dies, it is devastating for everyone concerned. During this trying time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends,” Fletcher said.
My sentiments, exactly. My condolences go out to the Georges.
DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.