Ohio father shoots dead son, 28, during hunting trip after mistaking him for a deer: 'Worst kind of tragedy'

Bradley Smith reportedly told authorities that his son was not wearing the recommended orange hunting clothing when the shooting occurred

                            Ohio father shoots dead son, 28, during hunting trip after mistaking him for a deer: 'Worst kind of tragedy'
(Dicken Funeral Home)

A 63-year-old father accidentally shot and killed his 28-year-old son after mistaking him for a deer during a hunting trip at dusk in Ohio. Delaware County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying that Bradley Smith apparently mistook his son, Andrew Smith, for a deer while he was hunting on December 2 at around 5:45 pm. The authorities said that the incident occurred when the father and son duo were out hunting in a wooded area earlier this month in the 2000 block of Pollock Road, outside Delaware.

The pair had reportedly gone hunting along with a group of friends, who were all considered experienced hunters and had met to hunt at the site for over 20 years. Bradley reportedly told authorities that his son was not wearing orange hunting clothing when the shooting occurred, according to The Columbus Dispatch. According to Ohio's Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, all hunters are required to wear orange outfits during deer-gun season while hunting from 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset in the state. The requirement applies to both public and private land across the state. On the day of Andrew's unfortunate demise, the sun set early at 5 pm, according to reports.

The Sheriff's office said that the ODNR's Division of Willdlife, Delaware police, and city fire medics responded to the scene, where Andrew was pronounced dead. The 28-year-old was reportedly a firefighter. The spokesperson for the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, Tracy Whited, while commenting on the incident told the outlet: "It's just the worst kind of tragedy. He thought he was shooting at a deer. It was his son."

Police, in a statement, said that the Smiths were out hunting white-tailed deer during the state's annual deer gun-hunting week. They also said that Bradley is not facing any charges in the case, according to reports. 

Andrew's obituary stated that the 28-year-old, who also went by the nickname AJ, attended Lincoln College in Illinois, played baseball for the Lynx, and graduated in 2014. His family said that he lived in Lincoln for several years while working for the college and eventually joined the Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District as a volunteer firefighter.

Andrew later left the region and shifted to Arizona, where he lived for around two years. He then returned to Ohio to attend the State of Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg, and graduated in 2018. After the completion of his studies, he worked for the Oberlin Fire Department in 2018 and 2019. Andrew, in 2019, moved to Columbus and worked there as an independent contractor until his death earlier this month. The 28-year-old is survived by his parents, Bradley and Kathy Allan Smith, his sister Bailey K. Meluch and several other family members. 

According to a press release from the state's Division of Wildlife, an estimated 310,000 hunters in Ohio participated in gun-hunting week from November 30 to December 6. A total of 71,650 white-tailed deer were harvested, according to reports.

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