Woman killed in accidental shooting

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SPRINGVILLE -- A young woman died in a very public, but apparently accidental shooting Sunday. Investigators say there is no reason to suspect foul play.

Police say 24-year-old Richard Case and his 19-year-old wife, Molly Ann Case, stopped at a 7-Eleven store at 206 N. Main Street around 11:45 a.m. for refreshments. They were taking a break from target shooting and camping in Hobble Creek Canyon.

Kimberley Steele stood behind the young bride in line. "They just looked like they were in there buying candy and snacks and going to go out and, you know, have fun. It didn't appear that they were fighting or anything," she said.

That's when police say things went horribly wrong.

"As they went back to the car, he opened the car door and a .22 caliber revolver fell out. And when it did, it hit the ground and discharged," said Lt. Dave Caron with the Springville Police Department. "Then he looked at her and realized that something was wrong. She kind of lifted her shirt and looked down, and then fainted."

Case was taken to the hospital, where she later died.

Steele says it was a frightening sight. "He was standing over her screaming that this was his wife, that his wife had been shot, and he was just hysterical," she said.

Gun safety expert Clark Aposhian is the chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council. He says it's rare for a dropped revolver to fire. "It's got to land just right on the hammer," he said.

Aposhian thinks it must have been an older gun. Modern single-action revolvers have a safety feature, a tiny bar that lifts up to cover the firing pin.

"It prevents the hammer from making contact with the firing pin unless the trigger is pressed," he said. "We have not heard of any anecdotal stories of the new models being dropped and going off, and that's since 1973."

He also recommends gun owners secure their weapons in cars, perhaps in the glove box or console.

"You just don't want it, you know, like a jug of milk. You don't want it rolling around," said Aposhian.

Caron says it's important to always put safety first. "We kind of become complacent, and this is one of those tragedies that shows we should never become complacent," he said.

If you have an older single-action revolver, you can get it retrofitted with a safety bar. In fact, Ruger will do it on their revolvers for free, including shipping.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com

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