AR: 19-year-old killed in hunting accident
A deadly hunting accident in Gravette leaves one family in shock
March 31, 2009
GRAVETTE - A family is in shock after the death of their son,
accidentally shot to death by his cousin while they were rabbit hunting in
5News sat down with that cousin: 14-year-old Johnny Arehart, who says he
was aiming for a rabbit, when he accidentally shot and killed 19-year-old
Now, the whole family is facing the tragedy, by pulling together.
Benton County detectives say the hunting expedition into the woods just
off Perkins Road in Gravette turned deadly, but it wasn't an intentional
Arehart says he and Estep weren't just relatives, they were best friends.
But he says Monday evening, the unthinkable happened. "A rabbit ran across,
I shot at it, it ricocheted off a tree, and hit my brother. He fell, he
grabbed right here and he said...I can't remember what he said. He hit the
ground, and I thought he was joking 'til I got over there and he was
bleeding. So I had him laying in my lap and I had my hand on his chest, and
blood started coming out of his mouth. I didn't know what to do, and then my
cousin ran and got 911 and it took them, who knows how long to get there. It
felt like an eternity. But they got there, and they put him on a stretcher.
It's what happened."
Detectives say Estep was taken to the Gravette ER, but was pronounced
dead on arrival.
Benton County Investigator Chris Sparks adds, what happened, was an
accident. "He just pulled up to shoot toward the rabbit. It's just a
tragedy. They've actually lived together since he was three, so they've
grown up like being brothers."
Estep's parents, Vanessa and Danny, say Arehart's been like their own son
since he was three, and he's been a "brother," and best friend, to Estep,
for just as long.
Vanessa Estep says, "they were just like "this." They done everything
together. There's just, there was just no way of getting them apart. When
one went somewhere, the other one was with him."
But she and Danny Estep add, they'll get through this by pulling
together. "You can't change it. Nothing we do is going to change it. We just
all have to stick together and everybody get through it." Danny says, "when
somebody dies, you just keep going through the memories, over and over. He
was fun-loving. He never hurt nobody. He was a dreamer. Yes. He was a
Right now, Benton County detectives say they're treating this incident as
an accidental shooting. But, they say Estep's body will still be sent to the
State Crime Lab, for investigation.
Detectives say as hunting picks up this spring, the best way to avoid
tragedies like this, is by learning solid gun safety.
Return to Hunting Accident Index
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