Family, friends remember Middlesboro teen killed in hunting accident

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

His mother said he was killed doing what he loved. Saturday 15-year old Devin Smith went hunting with his grandfather in Claiborne County, Tennessee. But Smith would never return from that trip.

He was mistaken for an animal and shot to death by another hunter.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and Claiborne County Sheriff's Department are investigating. While they put together their reports, many in Middlesboro and left to grieve over the life of a teenager - who brought smiles to many.

"Moments of hurt, moments of anger," said Jane Hurst, Devin Smith's mother.

For Hurst, it's no ordinary Monday at her Middlesboro restaurant. It's one without her son Devin.

"He'd just say mom we were having a little fun," said Hurst.

Saturday Devin Smith went hunting with his grandfather in Claiborne County. Smith was shot in the chest by 66-year old David Roland, another hunter, who mistook him for an animal.

"The first call I got actually thought it was my father," said Hurst.

The fifteen year old died by his grandfather's side. None of the hunters were wearing any safety orange.

"I know he is in a better place. I wouldn't wish him back for the world," said Hunter Collett, Devin's best friend.

Collett and hundreds of students spent the day writing about Devin on a memory wall at Middlesboro High School.

School administrators said students held prayer around the flagpole Monday morning despite the pouring rain - to remember one who touched all their lives.

"You'd be going down the hall - and he'd say I love you Ms. Smith, and you'd say, I love you too Devin," said Shelia Smith, Middlesboro High School Principal.

Devin was in JROTC and had dreams of becoming a Marine.

"He'd pat the back of Marines and say I appreciate what you do. I'm going to be a Marine one day," said Collett.

For now, classmates of Devin's show love to his family.

"He always said he didn't have any friends. He had more friends than he ever knew," said his mother.

That's love being paid back - from friends Devin didn't know he had.

Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray said it will be up to the district attorney to determine whether charges could be filed against the shooter.

Devin Smith would have been 16 years old Wednesday.

Visitation for Devin Smith is planned for Thursday night from 3pm - 8pm at Binghamtown Baptist Church in Middlesboro. The funeral will follow. Creech Funeral Home in Middlesboro is in charge of the arrangements.

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