Teen dies in pistol accident
September 20, 2004
The death of a 14-year-old Minden teenager occurred about 1:30 a.m. Sunday when he put what he thought was an unloaded gun to his neck and pulled the trigger.
Sage Walters died at an Indian Hills home from a single gunshot wound to the neck.
“It is our belief at this time, and the investigation continues, that this appears to be a self-inflicted wound and accidental in nature,” said Sgt. Tom Mezzetta, public information officer for Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Sage and another 14-year-old male reportedly took the .22-caliber handgun, and another gun, from a motor home in the area. Sage’s friend told police afterward that he and Sage took change, sunglasses and CDs from several vehicles in the Indian Hills area, and took the guns from a motor home Saturday evening.
The name of Sage’s friend has not been released because he is a juvenile.
“He is a juvenile and quite possibly he will be charged with the burglaries he was involved with,” Mezzetta said.
Recommended Stories For You
When Sage and his friend returned to the teenager’s Indian Hills home early Sunday morning, the two had been gone for about half an hour.
Nathaniel Killgore, 19, a family friend, said Sage and the other teenager behaved suspiciously when they returned to the home.
“I saw (the boys) kind of sneak in the house,” Killgore said. “I didn’t go see what they were up to, and I always go see what they are doing.”
Sage went into in a bedroom at the home. About five minutes later, Killgore heard a shot.
“This was totally unexpected,” Killgore said. “It’s completely sad. Just completely shocking. I just regret not getting up to see what they were doing. There’s no way I would have let them play with those guns. They would have instantly been taken, no question.”
The homeowner tried to help Sage, but the teenager was dead. Mezzetta said the other teenager was not arrested for the vehicle burglaries, but will likely face charges.
Free keylocks for guns are available at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office through Project ChildSafe. The cable-like lock, which is put through the barrel of the gun to prevent a round being put in the chamber, stops accidents from occurring. The lock can also be placed in the trigger area. Without a key to open the lock, the gun cannot be used.
“The firearm is basically all but inoperative,” Mezzetta said.
To keep guns safe, gun owners should lock their weapons in a gun or fire safe, and should not leave a weapon in a vehicle. No weapon should be left unattended or unsecured.
“There’s no reason for it,” Mezzetta said.
Weapons and gun ammunition should be stored separately. When teenagers come upon guns, they should alert an adult immediately.
“They shouldn’t touch the gun,” he said. “They should leave it where it is and report it to an adult and contact the sheriff’s office and let us take care of that.”
While a gun put by a nightstand for safety is OK, the weapon becomes a danger if the owner leaves it in the nightstand upon waking and leaving.
“It actually becomes a hazard because it’s unattended,” Mezzetta said. “When folks get up in the morning, they can lock it up and make it safe, so accidents like this don’t happen.”
— Maggie O’Neill can be reached at mo’firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 214. F.T. Norton at the Nevada Appeal contributed to this story.