Steamboat Springs A freak accident with a hunting rifle in North Routt sent a Fort Lupton teen-ager to the hospital with severe gunshot wounds.
Robert Schlabach, 44, of Fort Lupton accidentally shot his 13-year-old son in the buttocks Monday evening when he tried to remove his high-powered rifle from beneath the boy.
Schlabach, who was hunting with his son and a half-dozen other people in Big Red Park, had placed the rifle on a cot at their campsite.
When his son sat down on the cot, Schlabach became concerned and attempted to remove the rifle as the boy sat on the cot, according to a police interview with Schlabach.
"He apparently pulled the trigger as he removed the gun," Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.
Police investigated the rifle's safety devices and ruled out equipment failure, he said.
The single rifle shot inflicted several gunshot wounds to the boy's buttocks. An ambulance rushed the boy to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he is listed in fair condition.
Warner said Big Red Park, which is north of Columbine, is a popular hunting area in North Routt.
The Routt County Sheriff's Office responds to a few hunting accidents per year.
Warner said the boy was fortunate to have avoided serious injury. High-powered rifle shots are often fatal, he said.
"We are just thankful that he is going to be fine," he said.
He cautioned all hunters to always handle their firearms as though the weapons were loaded.
Many accidents are preventable if hunters are willing to take some time to think about safety, he said.
"Safety is the bottom line," Warner said.
The other people hunting with Schlabach and his son returned after the accident and were interviewed by police.