PENN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A hunter in Westmoreland County died from an accidental gunshot wound Monday morning.

It was the opening day of spring turkey hunting season.

Richard J. Simms, 51, of Irwin, was shot in the chest while climbing down from a tree stand in a field off Forbes Lane in Penn Township, Westmoreland County.

His gun accidentally discharged around 7:09 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 8 a.m.

Two hunters who witnessed the accident told authorities it appeared Simms was climbing down from the tree stand with the loaded gun.

In wake of this tragedy, officials are reminding hunters to be safe.

“Best thing you can do is unload your weapon whether it be a bow, [or] a firearm and use a pull-up rope so you climb up ahead of the firearm, pull it up with the rope, then load it once you’re into the tree stand,” Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha says, “and same thing in reverse when you go to get out of the tree stand.”


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