A West Virginia teen was killed Saturday when he was shot in the head with an arrow during a game of risk — called “dodging arrows” — that turned deadly, according to state authorities. Although criminal charges have yet to be filed in the case, West Virginia State Police say that the possibility exists due to the unknown circumstances concerning the so-called game. Until then, the incident is being viewed as a tragic accident.
The Associated Press reported March 22 that Caleb Fairchild, 15, died from a wound to the head, according to State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous, received while allegedly playing a game of “dodging arrows” in the front yard of a friend’s house in Manila, a small Boone County town near Chapmanville in Logan County. (Both are roughly 45 miles south of Charleston.) State Police Sgt. C.R. Sutphin added that there were no parents around when Caleb and two others were playing. The ages of the two were not disclosed initially, but it was noted by authorities that they were minors.
TheCharleston Gazette-Mail reported that all three involved were 15-year-old boys. According to West Virginia State Trooper R.D. Holden II, “dodging arrows” is a game as simplistic — and dangerous — as it sounds. Like the game dodgeball, the participants take turns attempting to hit another participant, but instead of throwing a ball at each other, they shot arrows.
A quick search on YouTube results in a video where youngsters take the “challenge” of dodging arrows. Posted on March 13, just days before Caleb and his friends decided to play a similar game with bows and arrows, the young poster notes that he and his friend are providing the videos on their own YouTube channels. In the video, which has not been connected in any way to the West Virginia incident, young boys can be seen taking turns shooting arrows at each other as the targeted kid runs and dodges the shot arrows, both clearly unconcerned about what could be the deadly consequence of playing such a game.
Holden told WCHS in Charleston that it wasn’t clear who came up with the idea of playing the game.
“They were in the front yard, they would take turns, one of them would actually run across the yard while another one would shoot the bow. They said they weren’t trying to hit anybody, shooting into the grass, and I guess a stray arrow went up and struck Caleb in the head.”
Motive for playing the game of “dodging arrows,” according to investigators, has not been established. And although the death of Caleb Fairchild seems to have been accidental, the teen who shot the arrow that killed him could possibly face charges of involuntary manslaughter. Sgt. Sutphin, who said the case might be considered negligent homicide, admitted that he wasn’t aware that such a game as “dodging arrows” existed.
“I’ve been a policeman for almost 25 years. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. They were just goofing around, thought it was a good idea. It’s just a bad decision, if you ask me.”
West Virginia State Police reported that troopers from the Madison detachment were called to a home in unincorporated Manila, a town on the Boone County side of the Boone/Logan County border, at just after 8 p.m. Saturday evening. They found Caleb Fairchild had been struck in the head by an arrow and had him transported to Logan Regional Medical Center. He was later transferred Charleston Area Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Caleb Fairchild was an eighth grade student at Chapmanville Middle School. According to USA Today, eight grief counselors and a pastor were at the school Monday to provide support.
Carlee Adkins, a sixth-grader at Chapmanville Middle, told the Associated Press that she started dating Caleb Fairchild on St. Patrick’s Day. According to her, the “dodging arrows” game wasn’t Caleb’s idea, that he disliked playing such games. She said that one of the other boys suggested it.
Carlee said she was too distraught to attend classes after the teen, her boyfriend, was killed. She described the 15-year-old as helpful and “easy to hang out with,” shy, artistic, and somebody who enjoyed all styles of music — except country music.
The investigation into Caleb Fairchild’s death is ongoing. The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office and the West Virginia State Police continue to investigate the circumstances around which the teen was killed.
[Image via Shutterstock]