Man Accidentally Shoots Self at Rocky Mountain National Park

Victim flown to hospital after incident at crowded lake.

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A Missouri man injured himself at Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday when a firearm in his backpack accidentally discharged, the National Park Service said in a statement.

The incident occurred at Emerald Lake, located less than two miles from one of the park’s most popular trailheads. In a press release, park authorities said the trouble started when the man removed his backpack and put it down on a rock.

“When he set the backpack on the rock, the gun discharged firing a round,” the park said. “The round struck the man in his leg. The round did not exit the man’s body. There were numerous visitors in the Emerald Lake area when this incident occurred.

Bystanders provided first aid to the stricken tourist before a search and rescue team wheeled him to the trailhead and handed him over to an ambulance crew. The ambulance drove him to the park’s Glacier Basin Campground, where a medevac helicopter flew him to Medical Center of the Rockies.

While it’s legal to openly carry a firearm in most parts of Rocky Mountain National Park—and legal to conceal one with the proper permit—firing a gun is prohibited. In its release, the Park Service discouraged visitors from relying on a gun as protection against bears and other wildlife, instead suggesting bear spray as a “proven method” for deterring aggressive animals.

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