On March 31, 2021, 17-year-old Hayden Wik picked up his mother’s handgun and, for reasons nobody understands, pulled the trigger. The bullet he fired hit his 16-year-old girlfriend in the head. Despite the best efforts of emergency services first responders, they were unable to save the girl’s life.
Initially police said the name of the slain teenage girl would not be released to protect the identity of the victim and the privacy rights of their family. A June 16th news report later identified the murdered young woman as 16-year-old Autumn Higgs.
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Hayden Wik and charged him with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a minor.
Hayden’s mother, 46-year-old Lori Lynn Wik, was placed under arrest and charged for wilfully allowing her underage son to possess firearms.
According to the arrest affidavit, Wik let her son keep guns in a gun safe in his bedroom closet to keep them away from a younger child. He would occasionally remove them from the safe for cleaning and taking them apart and reassembling them “like his older brothers who are in the military.”
Lori Lynn Wik said Hayden was taught gun safety at a young age and “has always been very careful when clearing them and cleaning them.”
The arrest affidavit details the evening Autumn was killed, saying she was in Hayden Wik’s bedroom watching him and a friend play video games while two firearms lay on the bed. The guns were out because Hayden had planned to go to a gun range with friends but their plans changed.
When Hayden went to put the guns away, he pulled the trigger to show it was clear, believing there were no bullets in it, but there were. A bullet struck Autumn below the left eye. He fled the room to get his mother, who ran in and began giving CPR while on a frantic phone call with 911.
‘Careful’ is the last thing I would call Hayden Wik’s actions that terrible and fateful evening.
This 17-year-old, who supposedly was well schooled in firearms safety, completely ignored every fundamental firearm safety rule and, because of his gross negligence, 16-year-old Autumn Higgs is dead and her family is struggling to come to terms with their terrible loss.
It sickens me every time I read about another negligent discharge that takes the life of some innocent young person because it is so bloody easy to avoid.
Even if the firearm was unloaded, as Hayden Wik mistakenly believed, why on earth would he point it at his girlfriend and pull the trigger?
This is gross stupidity on every level, and now Autumn Higgs is dead, her family destroyed and both Hayden and his mother, Lori Lynn Wik, will spend many years behind bars.
Everybody loses because of one young man’s stupidity.
So, if you own firearms, it is your responsibility to pound the following four gun safety rules deep into the brains of your children.
- Assume every firearm is loaded until you prove it is not.
- Always point a firearm in a safe direction, no matter what.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Pulling the trigger on an empty chamber is a great way to prove a firearm is unloaded, but ONLY if you checked to ensure both the chamber and magazine are empty FIRST.
Even then, you don’t point the firearm at another person and pull the trigger.