PERKASIE, Pa. (WTXF) - Bucks County prosecutors dropped the hammer on a grieving father Wednesday, charging him criminally, in the shooting death of his 2-year-old son.
Nicholas Wyllie looked dazed as he left the district justice office in Perkasie.
"This is a terribly tragic death. And the worst part of it is, it was 100% avoidable," said Bucks County district attorney Matthew Weintraub.
State police and DAs investigators say Wyllie and his young son Benjamin Smith were at his parents' home in Milford Township back on September 12th, when the toddler somehow got his hands on Wylie's loaded handgun.
The child apparently pulled the trigger and shot himself in the chest. Benjamin was rushed to St. Luke's hospital in Quakertown, where he died.
"There is at least some evidence that will suggest that little Benjamin was at least comfortable with toy guns," said Weintraub. "And so, perhaps if he saw this very real gun-- this implement of death-- available to him, he would not have known the difference."
Wyllie stands charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Reckless Endangerment in a case that some might describe as an accident. Not so, says the district attorney.
"This was an unintentional death, certainly," said Weintraub. "But if you're going to leave a loaded gun out for your 2-year-old son to grab--and this is the result-- that's no accident."
Weintraub cited statistics showing 265 people were accidentally shot by children in the United States last year. 41 children accidentally shot--and killed- themselves.