Hunting Accident Kills Austin Man during Trip with Daughter, Game Warden Recalls
by Rick Davenport
On the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country, Lampasas County — with a population of 30,000 — is a magnet for deer hunters from around the state and the nation. During his 17 years assigned to this deer hunting hot spot, Game Warden Jim Lindeman has accumulated a lot of memories in this Edwards Plateau Region getting to know most of the land owners and many of the hunters. The memory from November 17, 2012, however, he would like to forget.
“The Sheriff’s office dispatched me to a ranch in the central portion of the county off County Road 3220,” Lindeman explains. “A hunter had been shot on the property of about 1,000 acres. I know the landowner, and the hunters who have been leasing the ranch for the last decade.”
Lindeman, and a county deputy who was following him, arrived on the property and drove the ranch road where a 47-year-old man had been shot. The two men arrived before the ambulance.
In a chaotic scene, the victim was lying on the ground with a gunshot to the abdomen. The man’s brother and another hunter were taking turns performing CPR in a desperate attempt to save his life. The deputy and another game warden also tried CPR as the victim’s 10-year-old daughter and another child of about the same age were escorted away from the scene and were being consoled by an adult.
“After the morning hunt, a vehicle came to pick up two of the hunters from their stand,” Lindeman says. “As those two hunters were getting into the high-rise hunting vehicle, a .243 rifle which was propped up against the platform seat began to fall over. The man reached for it, and somehow it went off, striking him in the abdomen. This was very much an accident.”
The man, who has been identified as Eduardo Lopez of Austin, was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death may mark the third hunting fatality of the year. On November 10, a 71-year-old Livingston man was killed in what was reported to be an accidental shooting. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Witnesses told officials that a rifle was accidentally fired while it was being unloaded. And in April, a San Antonio man was shot in the head while hunting opossum on the San Antonio River.
“This is not good news,” Terry Erwin, TPWD hunter education manager, says of the number of apparent hunting fatalities this year. “If this is true, it surpasses the two fatalities we had last year.”
In 2011 Texas had the safest year on record. There were a total of 23 total hunting incidents, 21 of them non-fatal. The number has steadily declined since Hunter Education became mandatory in 1988. In that year there were 12 fatalities and 58 non-fatalities.
“This was a very nice man who died Saturday,” Game Warden Lindeman says of the Lampasas County accident. “And it happened in a split second.”