An 11-year-old girl at the Summerland Pro Bullriding Stampede on Saturday evening was injured during a pellet gun mishap during 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 his daughter to the Penticton Regional Hospital where she was treated and then 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. If you’re going to shoot at a target, use something else.”
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!”
The lead pellets can also cause serious health problems.
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,” he said.
“It’s just an unfortunate incident.”
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.