Dog steps on rifle in backseat of truck, fatally shoots Kansas man, officials say

A Kansas man is dead after officials said he was struck by gunfire from a rifle that discharged when a dog stepped on it in a truck.

The fatal shooting took place in rural Kansas along a road in Sumner County, about 45 miles south of Wichita, Wellington Fire and EMS Chief Tim Hay told USA TODAY Wednesday.

The Sumner County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as Joseph Austin Smith of Wichita.

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies were dispatched to the scene Saturday morning for a male who had been shot in the back. 

At the scene, EMS personnel administered CPR before the victim was pronounced dead, Hay said.

The driver of the truck, who was sitting next to Smith when the gun fired, was not hurt, Hay said.

Pack of dogs kill young boy: Four dogs fatally maul 7-year-old Idaho boy; mother injured while trying to protect son

‘By some miracle’: 22-year-old man lost at sea off Florida coast rescued by family hours later

Hunting gear, a dog and a rifle in the back seat

Sheriff’s office Deputy Jordan Douglas said a preliminary investigation found Smith was sitting in the front passenger seat of a pickup that contained hunting gear and a rifle in the back seat.

A dog who deputies said belonged to the owner of the pickup, was also in the backseat and stepped on the rifle, causing it to fire.

“The fired round struck the passenger who died of his injuries on scene,” sheriff’s officials wrote in a press release.

The case remained under investigation on Wednesday, Douglas said.

On Wednesday, Hay reminded gun owners to store firearms properly when in vehicles.

“Keep the safety on, unload your guns completely when it’s in a vehicle and put it away, in the trunk,” he said.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.