A Catawba County teen was fatally shot late Friday while riding in a truck with his father, authorities said.
The victim, identified as 16-year-old Austin Hedrick, died of a gunshot wound to the head. He was a passenger in the pickup truck driven by his father, according to the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said Hedrick, a student at Bunker Hill High School, and a friend were riding in a truck driven by Hedrick’s father on Hudson Chapel Road. Lt. Aaron Turk of the Sheriff’s Office said the three were returning from visiting family friends in the Sherrills Ford community.
Shortly before midnight, while riding on Hudson Chapel Road near Browns Chapel Road, about 3 miles east of the town of Catawba, a rifle in the truck discharged, striking Austin Hedrick in the head.
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“The father said the gun had been in the truck all day, and it discharged somehow,” Turk said.
Austin Hedrick was rushed to Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, where he died. The father and friend of the teen were not hurt, authorities said.
Turk said the investigation is continuing, but he said no charges have been filed.
Hedrick is the third Bunker Hill High student to die in a Friday night incident in the past two weeks. Alec Sigmon and Justin Turner, both 15, were killed in a single-vehicle wreck Oct. 3 on River Bend Road in Catawba County.