TALBOT COUNTY, GA (WTVM) - A 16-year-old boy is dead after an accident while hunting with his father in Talbot County, GA.
It happened Friday afternoon (November 26th), four miles east of Talbotton on Old Wire Road.
Talbot County Coroner Clinton Cosby is not releasing the victim's name because of his age, but tells WTVM the boy and his dad, from Cumming, Georgia (Forsyth County), had traveled to the land they lease for hunting.
When his son didn't meet him at dark, his father went looking for him and found him dead in his tree stand with a gunshot wound to his face.
Cosby says there were no witnesses to the shooting so it's unclear what exactly happened but says the shooting was not a suicide or an act of foul play, calling it accidental. The teenager was shot with a rifle.
The story hit home for Bobby Noland, a local restaurant owner (Luke's Pub in Ellerslie, GA)whose been hunting for more than 30 years. A few weeks ago, the bottom of his tree stand gave out while he was hunting by himself in North Georgia.
"I feel 25-30 feet and I hit the ground doing 40-45 miles an hour. I came straight down. My hands were up over my head and I came straight down. All the impact was on my feet," he revealed.
The force shattered both of Noland's legs and he was forced to drag himself down the mountain for help. He's had several surgeries and needs more operations. For the time being, he is in a wheelchair.
"It could have been my neck. I could be totally paralyzed. I could be dead. Fortunately, I will walk again," Noland said.
He says hearing about the death of a young hunter brought tears to his eyes.
"I know it's tough but the good Lord will look out for them and I'm sure they've got plenty of prayers coming their way."
According to the director of the Treestand Manufacturer's Association, user error plays a big factor in tree stand accidents. Besides reading the manufacturer's instructions, he says the number one safety rule is to always wear a full body harness.
Noland says he had his safety harness in his hand but didn't even have a chance to put it on before his lock-on tree stand collapsed. He says he fell as soon as he stepped on the platform but he does plan on hunting in the future- from the ground.
The Talbot County Coroner says the shooting incident is still under investigation and the teen's body has been sent to Atlanta for an autopsy.