Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Man killed in handgun accident

Express Staff Writer

Police said a Bellevue man accidentally killed himself Saturday, Sept. 11, with a revolver at one of the Red Top Cabins, south of Ketchum.

Ernest Wayne Smith, 35, shot himself in the head with a Para Ordinance semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun, said Blaine County Chief Deputy Gene Ramsey. ?The magazine was in his lap.?

Ramsey said the accident happened as a barbecue and a card game at the cabin was breaking up. One person had already left. He said that Smith had brought the gun out as a conversation piece and that at some point he pointed it at his head. There was still one round in the chamber.

?The bullet exited his head went past another person and landed in the kitchen,? said Ramsey, who considered Smith a friend. ?It was an accidental shooting. He had everything going for him. He was not depressed. He was there with his puppy.?

Ramsey said police checked for gunshot residue on the hands of two other people who were in the cabin at the time of the shooting. Ramsey said the exiting bullet came within a foot of hitting one of the other people in the room.

Smith, who was born in Hillsboro, Ore., grew up and attended schools in Dietrich, Shoshone, Blaine County, Cascade and Boise. After high school Smith joined the Army and served with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Benning, Ga. After leaving the Army, Smith worked for Anderson Asphalt and Sun Valley Transfer, both in the Wood River Valley. Smith, a ?jack of all trades? enjoyed cutting and hauling firewood, carpentry and other handyman tasks and was known as an exceptional athlete. He also enjoyed riding dirt bikes and snowmobiling.

Smith was an expert marksman. His favorite hobbies were collecting and shooting guns.

Smith is survived by his mother Ann McClure and father Ken Smith, and his siblings Tina and Mike Smith.

?It is very unfortunate,? Ramsey said. ?I?m sure it was very horrible for everyone involved there.?

(An obituary appears on Page A27 of the print edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.)

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