Girl struck by shot from pellet gun at Summerland rodeo event

Performer apparently fell off horse and accidentally discharged gun in direction of audience

An 11-year-old girl attending the Summerland Pro Bullriding Stampede Saturday evening was injured during a pellet-gun mishap at the intermission.

A woman on horseback was shooting at balloons when Calista Stafford, who was sitting on a fence at the grounds, felt a sudden pain in her right hip.

When she looked down and saw the blood from the wound, she realized she had been shot.

“I felt really, really scared,” she said. “I thought I was going to bleed so much. I was shaking.”

Her father, Gene Stafford, carried her to the St. John Ambulance station on site where the pellet was removed and she was cleaned up. He then took her to Penticton Regional Hospital for further treatment and then was released.

Gene Stafford said the pellets should not have been used and the gun should not have been fired at the crowd.

“I can’t believe the stupidity,” he said. “They were firing at a crowd with a projectile.”

The pellets used are designed for hunting small game. The container in which they are packaged contains a warning label. “Air guns are not toys. May cause serious injury or death. Be careful — shoot safely!”

Gene Stafford said the pellet could have resulted in significant damage to internal organs if it had followed a slightly different path.

The injury did not require stitches, but Calista Stafford is in pain and moving slowly as she recovers from the shot.

Sgt. Stephane Lacroix of the Summerland RCMP detachment said police are investigating the incident.

He said the rider appears to have fallen when the shot occurred. “It appears to be accidental, just an unfortunate incident,” he said.

The shot was reported to police by the Stafford family the day after the rodeo. Police are continuing to talk to witnesses.

Matt Darmody, organizer of the Summerland Pro Bullriding Stampede, could not be reached for comment by press time.