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Boy dies after shot from toy cannon strikes his head

First Published Jan 23 2012 12:18 pm • Last Updated Jan 24 2012 12:28 pm

A Tremonton teen died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a miniature replica cannon.

Robby Ostberg, 14, was in his living room about 7:30 a.m. Monday when the cannon fired in the boy’s face, causing massive head injuries, said Tremonton Police Chief David Nance. The boy died in his home, near 500 S. Tremonton St.

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Investigators initially thought the 18th-century replica cannon was merely decorative but discovered its firepower after cleaning and examining it, Nance said. It has a barrel about 6 inches long and is designed to be loaded with black powder and fire a .50-caliber round, Nance said.

"It’s something that can be used as a noisemaker or actually shoot a projectile," Nance said. "We don’t know exactly what was in it or if there was a projectile."

Investigators hope an autopsy will show what combustible material may have been used and how it was ignited, Nance said.

Family friend Danielle Kunsman said Ostberg was the best friend of her son, Cameron, and previously had demonstrated his miniature cannon for others. She said her son told her he has seen Ostberg fire only bits of aluminum foil.

Kunsman said Ostberg was "very talented, mechanically." Despite leaving Bear River High School in ninth grade, Ostberg had learned to repair neighbors’ badly damaged electronic and motor appliances.

"He was willing to help anybody," Kunsman said. "He helped my daughter fix her TV. My husband gave him a chain saw that [was missing parts], and that kid got that thing running again. A neighbor said [Otsberg] was just out here, helping ... change his tires. If it was broken, he’d fix it."

Ostberg’s 16-year-old brother was in the living room when the cannon fired but was not handling it and has few details as to what led to the shooting, Nance said. Ostberg’s father also was in the house but was not in the room, Nance said. The boy’s mother lives in Salt Lake County, he said.

Ostberg’s former classmates at Bear River High School planned to dress in formal wear Tuesday in his honor, Kunsman said.

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ealberty@sltrib.com smcfarland@sltrib.com

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