CUSTER TWP. — A 10-year-old girl was airlifted to a Grand Rapids hospital Saturday afternoon after she was shot in the head by a high powered air pellet rifle. The girl and her family are from the Grand Rapids area, according to Sheriff Jeff Fiers. They were camping on an island in the Pere Marquette River just north of of Cable Road, about a mile east of the Custer Road bridge. The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m.
“It appears to have been purely accidental,” Fiers said. “Another relative had picked up the air rifle off of a table and it went off.”
The girl was transported by a commercial fisherman on the river and taken to the boat launch along Custer Road. An interpreter was called in to communicate with the girl. It is not clear how many other adults or children were with her when the incident occurred.
Fiers said the girl was in critical condition. “We can just keep her in our prayers and hope for the best,” he said.
Custer and Scottville fire departments along with Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, Scottville Police Dept. and Life EMS responded to the area.
The girl was transported to Memorial Medical Center but scheduled to be flown to Grand Rapids via AeroMed helicopter. She was not from Mason County, according to a sheriff’s office official on the scene.
About an hour after the incident, sheriff’s officials were still investigating on the river and along the banks. They returned to the boat launch with the air gun along with several items of clothing.
Fiers said the name of the victim will not be released by the sheriff’s office until Tuesday morning.
Story and photo by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief