Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crazy Accident

It was reported today that a five-year-old boy accidentally shot dead his two-year-old sister. The rifle was given to the boy as a gift. The rifle used in the accident is a Crickett designed for children and sold under the slogan “My First Rifle,” according to the company's website.

The coroner said it is just one of those 'crazy accidents.' An autopsy was set to be conducted on Wednesday, but the coroner said he expected the shooting will be ruled accidental.

One of the chapters in my book is dedicated to injury science. Injury science is a relatively new science that studies injuries. The main focus of injury science is the prevention and control of injuries, however, as the father of injury science explains, it can also be used to study the infliction of injuries. What does injury science have to say about this incident?


The term 'accident' denotes an unforeseen, unexpected event that is the result of chance, fate or destiny. It is also used to describe human error or mistake, which thereby excludes the person from the consequences of injury. 

When arguing for the need to discontinue the use of the word 'accident' when referring to unintentional injuries, Langley refers to a survey of women whose children had been injured. The results showed that many of them had not taken any action to prevent a reoccurrence of the event resulting in injury. The findings suggested that this was not because such events were perceived as being too difficult to control, or action was inappropriate, or that the event was useful education for the child. Rather, many mothers saw the incidents as something which by definition could not be prevented - an accident.

I've written before about the Japan Judo Accident Victim's Association which has been established in response to 108 deaths from training judo in school. An internationally renowned martial arts authority discussing the JJAVA experience commented, 'accidents will happen.' What impetus is there to find a solution to prevent and control fatal and serious injuries among students training judo if they are the result of accidents and accidents will happen? By definition they are unpredictable and unpreventable.

You often see coroner's findings as to the cause of death being accidental, even though there is an entire discipline that studies injuries, fatal and nonfatal, intentional and unintentional, whose mantra is: 'injuries are not accidents.' Findings of accidental absolve all involved of any responsibility. Is nobody responsible for the death of that young girl? Are not the parents for buying a four-year-old at the time of purchase a rifle? Is not Crickett for manufacturing firearms for children? Are not the law makers for allowing children to possess lethal weapons? Apparently none of them are responsible because it was an accident. By definition, nothing can be done to prevent or control injuries from similar events in the future because they are accidents and accidents are unpreventable.

Here is another idea. Direct coroners to study injury science - the science that is dedicated to the study of injuries. The science whose mantra it is - INJURIES ARE NOT ACCIDENTS.


  1. Unbelievable! Except sadly it's people of Kentucky really value a child's life so little that this will be ruled a 'crazy accident' and no more?

  2. Well said. The nature of the "accident" hasn't been described. If the kid pointed the gun at his sister and pulled the trigger, that's not an "accident". He may not have been aware of what he was doing, may not have known a bullet was in the chamber. But it was not an accident, it was a deliberate act whose consequences he couldn't foresee. Of course, everyone wants to avoid culpability here - which is very sad.


Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.