Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting

NM: Boy, 13, killed in hunting accident


SAN RAFAEL — A Los Alamitos Middle School student was fatally shot in a hunting accident May 13 at his family’s property in San Rafael.

Salvador Benavidez, 13, went with a friend to feed the family’s cattle and hunt prairie dogs on the San Rafael property when the accident occurred at approximately 6:30 p.m., Cibola County Undersheriff Felix Savaadra said Monday.

Benavidez, son of former Cibola County Sheriff Salvador Benavidez, Sr., was taken to Cibola General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 7:30 p.m.

Savaadra, Sheriff Johnny Valdez and CCSO Lt. Harry Hall were at the emergency room with the victim and contacted his mother, Paula Delara, in Globe, Ariz.

The undersheriff said the victim was shot once in the upper left chest area and the bullet penetrated his heart.

Investigations concluded the shooting was an accident and no charges have been filed. Savaadra said the case will be reviewed by the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office but CCSO has no plans to file any charges.

The boys, who had been shooting the varmints for the three days before the incident, left Benavidez Sr. at the gate to a field and drove onto the family’s property, Savaadra explained. He said that the elder Benavidez saw the truck stop, the door open and the boy fall out, but heard no gun shots.

Investigators determined that the Benavidez was shot at close range with a short barrel .22-caliber lever-action rifle when the second child was loaded the firearm and it accidentally discharged.

According to Savaadra’s information, Benavidez stopped the truck and reached behind the seat for the rifle, then handed it to the other boy with the barrel pointed in his own direction, then the other boy loaded the firearm, which discharged when the barrel was closed. The Undersheriff said the rifle was known to have a sensitive trigger.

The sheriff’s office spokesman said Benavidez, Sr. had trained his son in safe firearm handling. No information is available about the hunting background of the other boy.

Chief Robert Hays of Grants Fire and Rescue said that a single shot from a .22-rifle, often considered a less dangerous firearm than most, can cause a fatal injury when the bullet enters the thoracic cavity at certain angles. He added that the risk is much greater in a child or teen.

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