A teen boy in Utah has died after he was hit by a stray bullet coming from a nearby mountain range while riding in a car with his parents after church.
Deseret News reports that Zackary Kempke, of North Ogden, was riding in a car with his parents and a young girl near Monte Cristo range when he was hit in the head by a bullet. The bullet reportedly came from a family that was target shooting hundreds of feet away.
Zackary was killed instantly while seated in the backseat of the family car. His family had reportedly gone for a ride after church to take photos of the fall scenery to send to his brother, who is on a mission, presumably with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
According to a statement from the sheriff’s office obtained by Deseret News, witnesses and members of the family that shot the stray bullet did not realize there was any danger of hitting a car on the road.
“They did not know there was a road downrange and could not see the vehicle as it traveled on the road due to thick brush and trees,” the statement read.
Zackary’s uncle Cory Hopkins spoke to Fox News about the tragedy.
“My brother-in-law heard an explosion in the back seat and turned around and realized his son was gone,” Hopkins said.
“They’re just an emotional wreck. They are blaming themselves, like, ‘why, what if we wouldn’t have gone down this road.’”
Zackary was a 9th-grader at North Ogden Junior High.
Fox News reports that a preliminary investigation has found that the fatal shooting appears to have been unintentional.
“When the investigation is complete, all information and evidence will be turned over to the Rich County Prosecutor for further action or charges,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“As of this time no charges have been filed.”