An 18-year-old St. Clair High School senior is recovering after authorities said he was accidentally shot in the foot while he and two others were hunting. The incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday near the Meramec River's River Round access point northeast of St. Clair off of Old Cove Road.
According to Missouri Conservation Department St. Louis District Supervisor Dennis Twyman, the victim - whom his mother, Gina, identified at the scene as Tyler Sumner - was shot in the top of his right foot while he and two 17-year-old friends were coon hunting.
His injury was not considered to be serious.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office confirmed the victim's identity through a Friday morning press release
"One of the 17-year-olds was attempting to shoot a coon on the ground," Twyman said. "The victim had his foot on it and told them to shoot it as soon as he moved his foot. Somehow in that process he got shot in the top of the foot.
"We're still unclear on exactly how it happened, but that's the basic story."
Twyman did confirm the shooting was accidental and that a .22-caliber rifle was used.
The sheriff's office information stated that it was determined three males were coon hunting in the area. During the hunt, one of the teens wounded a raccoon. A second subject was holding the animal down with his foot to prevent it from getting away.
"The plan was for the subject to remove his foot, and the other subject was to shoot the animal," the press release stated. "When the victim moved his foot, the animal attempted to flee. The victim attempted to put his foot back on the animal, at which time the other subject fired at the animal, striking the victim in the foot."
Neither Twyman nor the sheriff's office released the names of the two 17-year-olds. Twyman said he could not because the investigation into the incident was continuing.
But a friend waiting at the scene told The Missourian that the other two boys hunting with Sumner were SCHS junior Ricky Grivetti and senior Dakota Bush. St. Clair High School confirmed they were students there.
Neither Twyman nor the sheriff's office revealed which one may have accidentally shot Sumner.
St. Clair Fire Protection District and Ambulance District crews as well as sheriff's department deputies and state conservation officers were dispatched to the scene at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday for a river rescue. Dispatched information stated that there was an accidental hunting-related shooting. At the time, it was reported that the gunshot had been self-inflicted.
A rescue crew launched the boat upstream into the water at the access point shortly thereafter and began searching for the teenagers. St. Clair Fire Protection District Capt. Zach Fuchs, the incident commander, said the crew had difficulty locating the men in part because of foggy conditions.
It was determined they were between the access point and the Bruns Bridge a couple of miles upstream along the twisting river.
"We heard they were hunting in the river bottoms area when this happened," Fuchs told The Missourian. "After it happened, we were told they had walked to the riverbank to be rescued."
At one point, a conservation officer and firefighters, including Fuchs, tried to find the trio and their dogs by driving on a different access road west of the boat launch. Fuchs said he could communicate with the men through shouting back and forth.
At that time, it was decided to try to retrieve them via land, but that decision was changed after it was determined the terrain, which included a steep bluff, was too rugged to negotiate under the circumstances.
At about 9:30 p.m., the boat crew found the men. Sumner first was brought to the boat launch at the access point. He arrived at about 9:45 p.m.
With his foot wrapped after initially being treated at the scene, Sumner did not use the ambulance gurney and instead hopped up the boat ramp with the help of two firefighters, where he was met by waiting family and friends.
He was taken to an area hospital by private conveyance.
"This serious accident occurred because people were not paying attention while using firearms," said Twyman, who also is certified as a hunting incident investigator. "We always encourage everyone to be safe while hunting. Be sure any weapon is only pointed at the target and not at anyone else."
Twyman said his report will not be finalized for two to four weeks.
Neither of the other two teens was injured.