Child victim in weekend hunting accident identified

NOW: Child victim in weekend hunting accident identified

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BERLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An area organization accepting donations on behalf of the affected family has identified the name of the child who lost his life in a hunting accident on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Unimaginable Hope reports that 11-year-old Easton Thom was the victim of the incident in Green Lake County. Officials say he was flown via Med Flight to a hospital, where he died.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and emergency crews initially reported that a 41-year-old male attempted to unload his firearm while it was placed in the back seat of a vehicle. The firearm discharged, striking Thom in the chest.

"It really needs to come home to the four rules of firearm safety," said Major April Dombrowski with the Wisconsin DNR.

"Treat every firearm as if it's loaded. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Always be certain of your target. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you're ready to shoot."

Thom's death was one of six incidents across the state of Wisconsin on opening weekend, double the number of opening weekend incidents in 2021. Despite the increase, Dombrowski still says deer hunting in Wisconsin is relatively safe.

"In 1966, we had a total of 264 hunting incidents, so in 1967 we initiated a Wisconsin hunter education program and then from there, in 1980, we established the requirement of blaze orange," Dombrowski explained. "In 1985, we established the mandatory hunter education for those born on or after Jan. 1 of 1973. Then, in 2009, we also initiated the mentor hunting program. We contribute the success of all these efforts and for the decline in incidents."

Meanwhile, the Berlin community is rallying together to honor Thom.

"Extended members of the Thom family were there for my family when we lost my parents, and the support of our community is what helped heal our hearts," said Krista Sobieski, co-founder and president of Unimaginable Hope. "Now, during this sad time for their family, we wanted to be able to give back. Rather than doing Giving Tuesday to support our nonprofit, now through the end of November, any donations we collect will go to the Thom family."

The Berlin community will be hosting a vigil in Easton's memory Friday night.

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