LOCAL NEWS

Weber County Teen Killed By Errant Bullet From Target Shooter

Sep 24, 2018, 7:47 PM | Updated: 9:40 pm

DAIRY RIDGE, Utah – A Utah family is in agony and disbelief after an accidental bullet cut down their 14-year-old son. The North Ogden teen was killed as he and his family were driving out of a remote area of the Monte Cristo Range in Rich County.

He was struck by an errant bullet from a target shooter.

Officials with the Rich County Sheriff’s Office identified the teen as 14-year-old Zackary Kempke. He was up in the mountains Sunday enjoying a drive through the fall foliage with his sister and his parents.

The family was leaving an area near Dairy Ridge Sunday when he was suddenly struck by the bullet.

His uncle told KSL the family was devastated by the loss that seemed so inconceivable.

“Mortified… like, numb,” said Zachary’s uncle, Cory Hopkins.

That was how he and others in the family felt as the reality of the teen’s death sinks in.

“It hit the window of the Jeep,” said Hopkins. “He didn’t even know what happened. He was gone that fast.”

Hopkins spoke on behalf of Kempke’s parents, who were with him, along with a younger sister. Hopkins said the family drove to the area to take pictures of the fall colors to send to Kempke’s older brother, who was currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“(They were) taking family pictures of themselves, and pictures of leaves and scenery to send to their brother, Gunner,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Kempke had spirit.

“He was like the center of attention. He was a comic,” Hopkins said. “He liked to make people laugh, you know, but he had a serious side. He was very spiritual.”

He said Zach was part of a large, close-knit family.

“Very outgoing, very active in church, very high-spirited. He was the life of the party. He stole the show,” Hopkins said.

The Kempkes had just gotten back in their jeep to drive out when a bullet hit Zack in the head, killing him instantly.

Sheriff Dale Stacey said Kempke’s family was driving down the dirt road at the same time another family was shooting targets with a rifle, several hundreds of yards away. The mother of that family was firing at the time.

“There’s another victim here,” said Hopkins of the family who had just been out enjoying their time shooting together. “That family is going to live with this for the rest of their life.”

“The vehicle happened to be right behind at the time,” Stacey said. “It appears to be accidental, but we are investigating it.”

Deputies were dispatched to the area after a call to 911 emergency dispatchers around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sheriff Stacey said despite what they believed was an accidental shooting, the incident will be treated as a homicide so that investigators are thorough before the case is turned over to the Rich County Attorney’s office for screening.

Hopkins said his family is suffering a major loss.

“He was a good kid,” Hopkins said. “He was loving, and he was very family oriented.”

Hopkins said the family has let go of the initial anger they felt over the circumstances as they focus on Zack’s life.

“He loved the outdoors. He loved camping,” he said.

Zack was a 9th grader at North Ogden Junior High.

“(We’re) going to miss his lively spirit around the holidays, up camping,” Hopkins said. “We’re a real close family, and we’re a big family, and we all just can’t believe that he’s not going to be around.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Cary Schwanitz

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

SALT LAKE CITY — The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves. Doctors from University of Utah Health Monday reminded everyone that they should also get vaccinated for the seasonal flu, which could be […]
17 hours ago
116 bags of methamphetamine are stacked on the hood of a UHP unit. (Utah Highway Patrol)...
Cary Schwanitz

UHP makes million dollar drug bust near Cedar City

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped a pickup truck on I-15 outside of Cedar City Friday and confiscated approximately one million dollars in methamphetamine.
17 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

Poaching in Utah: 319 wildlife illegally killed since Aug. 1

“We need your help,” DWR Lt. Chad Bettridge said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us."
17 hours ago
Salt Lake City police arriving at the shooting scene on Sept. 16. (SLC PD)...
Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Brothers arrested in Salt Lake shooting investigation

Two brothers have been arrested in connection with a shooting in Salt Lake City earlier this month.
17 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Exploring the benefits of stretching with Casey Scott

We all know it's important to stretch before any kind of workout, but there are a lot more benefits than just preventing injury.
17 hours ago
...
Ashley Moser

Utah mom encourages others to look for signs of strokes after her 3-month recovery

A Utah mother is grateful she followed her gut and had her family call 911 after waking up in the middle of the night partially paralyzed.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Weber County Teen Killed By Errant Bullet From Target Shooter