Severe Hunting Accident Serves as a Reminder to Practice the Sport Safely

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Hosford- Liberty County Judge Ken Hosford said it happened in the blink of an eye.

"I just remember one little glimpse of falling and then the next memory I have is just, being on my back on the ground trying to roll over. And, I didn't hear, but felt crunching and popping and crunching" he said holding his shoulder.

It had been the first morning of an annual hunting trip in Kentucky when the deer stand Hosford was standing in collapsed.

"As the wind picked up later in the morning, the stand was unstable- I felt it moving" Hosford recalled. "I put my rifle in the corner and opened the door. I saw that one beam was completely sawed in two, the other was barely hanging. As I was still looking, the beam that was still hanging cracked and just dumped like a dump bucket. I went straight head first to the ground."

Hosford suffered a broken collar bone, multiple cracked ribs, chipped vertebra and a severe concussion.

While hunting accidents are unfortunately common, there was something very uncommon about Hosford's accident- the beams on the stand had been deliberately cut. Police believe they were cut this summer, and had a lead as to who may have done it. But, they said the case would be difficult to prove. Regardless, Hosford told us the accident could have been avoided.

"Its so important that we do safety checks" Hosford said. He believed had he checked the stands the afternoon before, the tampered beams may have been detected.

Florida Wildlife Regional Hunting Safety Coordinator George Warthen agreed safety checks and precautions should always be a top priority..

"Tree stand accidents can be completely avoided by wearing such devices as full body arrest systems, or full body harnesses. [You] would be connected the minute you leave the ground to the minute you return. But, it does take wearing that device to save your life" Warthen said.

Warthen told us tree stand accidents had declined in recent years because of new safety measures such as harnesses.

"I could be paralyzed, I could have been brain damaged, or dead" Hosford said reflecting on the accident. "I know I've got a hard road to recovery ahead of me, but I've got a road. And I'm well aware that there are many who've had accidents like this and they don't have a lot in front of them- I'm thankful."

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