A KanawhaCounty teenager’s death was "not in vain." Those were the words of Governor Joe Manchin as he signed the Caldwell Bill into law Wednesday at St. AlbansHigh School.
16-year-old Nick Caldwell was killed while turkey hunting near his home in St. Albans last year. He was shot by another hunter, who instead of helping the victim left him to die. Andrew Hardin, the shooter, was charged with a misdemeanor because that was the stiffest penalty on the books.
Caldwell‘s father, Don, says the tragedy could have been prevented. "My son was shot and the boy left him there. He was shot at like in the morning. He didn’t die until or they estimate. And I found him around . All he had to do was get my son some help. And he could possibly be here today."
Caldwell, with the help of several of his son’s good friends, lobbied the DNR and the legislature to pass a sentencing guideline that would make it a felony if a hunter shoots someone and then flees the scene without attempting to help the victim.
Governor Joe Manchin signed the bill into law in front of the student body at St. AlbansHigh School. "We moved forward on legislation that probably should have been done a long time ago. But at least we didn’t miss the opportunity to do it now."
Manchin says he had no idea that the penalty prior to Caldwell‘s death was only a misdemeanor. And there’s a good chance that other governor’s are in the dark as well. He wants to enlighten them about that possibility. "We’re going to pass this around to the rest of the states to see if they would look at it. Hopefully it can prevent something horrible like this from ever happening again."