A Kansas man has died after he was shot by his dog in a tragic hunting accident on Saturday morning.
According to several press releases obtained by People, 30-year-old Joseph Austin Smith of Witchita was fatally shot when the canine discharged the firearm while the two were inside his pickup truck.
Per the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, the accidental shooting took place in the area of 80th Street South and River Road, which is north of Geuda Springs, as stated by ABC affiliate KAKE.
Smith had been sitting in the front passenger seat of his truck when his dog “stepped on the rifle” in the back seat, police say. The bullet hit the victim in the front seat.
“Responding units arrived within minutes of the 911 call and started CPR,” the sheriff’s office said.
Smith worked as a plumber at Browns Plumbing Services in Wichita, the owner of the company said on Tuesday.
“Joe is absolutely the most unique individual I have had the pleasure of meeting. He was loved by all of us from all walks of life and loved the same,” owner Chris Brown wrote in a GoFundMe set up to help the victim’s family with funeral costs.
“He made us laugh every morning whether it was at him or because of him he always made sure to be a positive light at my company. No matter how bad or stressful my or our day was, Joe always had something to lift our spirits.”
Brown continued: “I have been a plumber for a long time and met many many different guys but never have I met another Joe and I am confident there may not be another.
“If you were lucky enough to know, be a friend or family of Joe, you understand what a great loss this is to the world. We must all learn to navigate without him in it. Please consider donating if you can, as any amount will truly help.
“We are very grateful for any donation during this very difficult time. If you are not able to donate, it would mean the world to us for you to share this link, someone else may be able to.
“I know it would mean a lot to myself, the rest of our crew, family and friends if you also shared a memory or story of Joe and what he has meant to you. We will forever feel so blessed to have him in our lives for just a short time. We will never forget you, Joe.”
Per data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than a hundred unintentional shootings in the United States since the start of 2023.
Over 1,600 unintentional shootings were reported last year, according to the non-profit organization’s website. More than 2,400 gun deaths have been recorded in the country in 2023 thus far.