Moral Low Ground


Kentucky Girl Caroline Sparks, 2, Accidentally Shot Dead by 5-Year-Old Brother

(Family Photo/Norris-New Funeral Home)

(Family Photo/Norris-New Funeral Home)

A 5-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in rural southern Kentucky on Tuesday.

Kristian Sparks was playing with a .22 rifle he received as a gift last year when he accidentally shot his sister Caroline once in the chest at around 1 p.m. outside their family’s home in Lawson’s Bottom, Cumberland County.

The children’s mother, Stephanie Sparks, was nearby when the tragic accident occurred. She had just stepped onto the front porch of the family’s mobile home while cleaning the kitchen when “she heard the gun go off,” according to the local coroner.

Caroline was rushed to Cumberland County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Cumberland County Judge-Executive John Phelps Jr. released a statement in which he called the Sparks family “good neighbors and friends of my family.”

“Today we mourn with them in this time of the tragic loss of their daughter, Caroline,” Phelps said in the statement. “There are often events in life that we never fully understand. Today holds one of those sad events.”

Phelps said Caroline “was not only Chris and Stephanie’s daughter and Kristian’s little sister, but a child who was loved by many, many family members and friends, and was a beautiful child of our community.”

“Burkesville is the type of community that when something like this happens, everybody comes together,” local resident Vickie Temple told “That’s just how our community is when something tragic happens.”

The .22 Crickett rifle Kristian shot his sister with is marketed to children as “my first rifle.” The gun was reportedly kept in a corner of the family’s mobile home, and according to the Associated Press, Kristian’s parents did not realize there was a bullet in it.

“Down in Kentucky where we’re from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the AP. “You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything.”

“It’s a normal way of life, and it’s not just rural Kentucky, it’s rural America — hunting and shooting and sport fishing. It starts at an early age,” Phelps added. “There’s probably not a household in this county that doesn’t have a gun.”

Kentucky State Trooper Bill Gregory said the shooting is being treated as an accident. Gregory did not know whether any charges would be filed.

“I think it’s too early to say whether there will or won’t be,” he told the AP.

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