Penn Township Hunter Killed After Gun Accidentally Discharges

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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Westmoreland County Coroner

  • Dre

    Hey Marty, if animals had guns and were blessed with a way to shoot them, they would be closer to being humans…animals were created for us to use for meat and fur.
    Yes, animals shouldn’t be put through a long tortuous death but hunting is necessary. Otherwise, you’ll be hitting every kind of wildlife with your car and dealing with an infestation near your home.

    • Whistle Pig

      Hey Dre … I’m with you on the pleasures of hunting. Not sure I buy the “necessary” part beyond saving lots and lots of expensive shrubs and tulips in and around suburbia. And a thorough review of the Creation story may be in order as to the Creator’s plans and purposes for plants and animals. I fear your shot’s missed the mark. Your friend, Gene Sis

  • Gene & Jenny Sis

    Hey Dre, I share your pleasure of hunting, but beyond preserving tons and forturnes worth of shrubs, tulips, and plantings in and around suburbia, not sure of the “necessary” part. Habitat will dictate numbers. You may want to check out your contention and view of the Creator’s plans and purposes for his critter creations. You should start by reading my book. It fully explains your misunderstandings. Best regards, Gene Sis


    It’s not necessary as long as you have someone else do the killing for you.

  • Karen S.

    It seems totally absurd that hunting with guns is allowed within 1/2 mile of a residence. I’m sure kids who live in houses on the 1100 block of Forbes Ln might perhaps play in those woods where this gun accident occurred.

  • deer slayer

    hey karen s who one who complains about animals destroying plant and yards. hope all the wildlife tears up your yard or do you live an apartment

  • Hunter

    As a hunter it is sad to hear about this kind of tragedy ! As a long time turkey hunter I cannot imagine why person was in a tree stand . Only shotguns allowed for spring turkey . So being accidentally shot by one usually happens at within 100 yards . If hunting is legal there then kids should not be in the woods or wear orange . I am not from Pittsburgh but from the news every night I would think people should be more concerned about their kids getting shot by drive by or from being caught in a cross fire .

  • Glock

    what we need is more safer guns

  • ExperiencedHunter

    Basic hunter safety rules. NEVER climb a tree (up or down) with a loaded firearm. Same with a bow/arrows. Tie a rope to the UNLOADED firearm (or bow/arrows) and pull them up to your stand when you’re situated. Same going down, lower the UNLOADED firearm (or bow/arrows) to the ground and then climb down. Takes longer but at the end of the day you’ll be avoiding a tragic accident such as this.

  • steve

    There was not a finer man or a man I know who loved our respected hunting more than rick. He wil be sadly missd by all that knew and loved him. Prayers go out to his family.

  • elmer

    i know a lot of so called hunters.and believe me they ain’t the sharpest folks you will ever meet.thats why i go the supermarket if i wan t turkey

    • Fudd

      Spoken like a true hillbilly

  • Randalle Berger

    Rich was a man among men. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He gave more than he was asked,and took less than he was offered.God be with his family at this time, and may his friends carry forward that which Rich gave to all.

  • harry

    Who hunts from a tree for turkey? This story does not make much sense to me??? It sad that it hapened but still unsure of the use of a tree stand turkey hunting. And to all the morons bashing hunting, put your tv remote down turn off the sports channel and get out into the outdoors, UNLESS YOUR WIFE INSISTS YOU STAY IN AND RUB HER FEET!

    • Gobble Gobble

      Maybe they were roosting in that tree ora nearby tree and he was trying to ambush them

  • Justin, Chrisy, Madison

    Rick you will be missed very much. We couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor. Thank you for all your help over the years.

  • goober

    i think Harry is right. it’s not hunting thats being bashed it’s the way these people take it as serious as they do. yesterday i seen deer and turkey in the ihop.parking lot.. no doubt the population needs controlled. but hunting is trying to find something that is difficult to find. i think harvesting is the right term for this.

  • Bob

    He was a substitute teacher at my school, its sad to see him go, he was a true hunter, and you could tell he liked hunting and stuff, and was a hick(in a good way, so am i, proud of it) from his big belt buckle, and cowboy boots. I <3 the way he dressed

  • Nicole

    He was a sub at my school and he went to my church. He was at one point my sunday school teacher. He was really nice and we liked alot of the samethings. He gave me one of his nice fishing rods once and gave me tips for fishing. I saw him the other day in school I was going to stop and say hi but i was running late for class. I guess I should have taken the late because now I wont be able to say hi to him again. I’m really going to miss him. He was a really good man and really nice. I cant beleive this happened to him.

  • Eric

    Knowing him for almost ten years, I will never meet a more genuine and caring person. He was always willing to lend a hand and help out, expecting nothing in return. They say only the good die young, well, we lost one heck of a good person. You will be missed.

  • kristy

    not too bright, huh? why in the hell are these hunters allowed to be in a residential area like forbes lane shooting their guns in the first place? i mean, if they want to kill themselves, go for it, but don’t take innocent people along with you.

    • JustSaying

      Nice comment Kristy. You’re obviously a feel-good, outgoing kind of person who cares deeply for others. Some lucky guy will end up with you some day and, after getting to know your innermost feelings, will go out in the street and walk in front of a truck!

  • Bob

    Nicole u go to norwin 2?

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