A teenage boy died after a handgun discharged while he was driving, Texas authorities said.
The boy, 16, was driving a sedan with three teenage passengers in Houston on Aug. 21 and was believed to “have been handling a pistol” at the time, according to a Harris County Sheriff’s Office news conference and press release.
At one point, the gun went off, striking the boy, a spokesperson for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office told McClatchy News. After he was hit, the car careened forward, crashing into another vehicle near a highway overpass.
The 16-year-old, who has not been publicly identified, was airlifted to a hospital in “very critical condition,” the sheriff’s office said.
He later died at the hospital, according to an Aug. 22 update from Gonzalez.
The other passengers were between 16 and 17 years old, according to preliminary reports, officials said.
“At this point we’re trying to conduct the investigation,” Gonzalez said during the news conference. “We still want to again confirm some details and make sure that we’re getting the full story.”
He said initial reports indicate the driver was handling the pistol when it went off but that “could always change.”
“We may get additional information and determine that one of the other occupants may have discharged the weapon. So that’s all under investigation,” he said.
Deputies did not provide any updates when contacted by McClatchy News on Aug. 22.
Firearm-related injuries and motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death among adolescents in America, according to a 2022 study from the New England Journal of Medicine.