Archive for Monday, September 25, 2017

Mother of child killed in accidental shooting says 1-year-old brought ‘sunshine,’ ‘so much love’ to family

September 25, 2017, 6:12 p.m. Updated September 25, 2017, 10:35 p.m.


The family of the toddler killed in an accidental shooting last week in Lawrence has planned her funeral for Thursday, which would have been her second birthday.

Autumn Grace Smith, 1, was smiling, funny, full of life, happy all the time, loved to dance, loved to sing and “gave so much love” to her family, her mother, Megan Smith, said.

“We were just starting to see more and more of that character and that personality blossom,” her mother said.

Autumn Grace Smith

Autumn Grace Smith

“Autumn was such a gift and such a blessing in the short time that we were given her.”

The fatal shooting was reported shortly after 10:30 a.m. Friday at the family’s home in the 600 block of North Michigan Street.

Lawrence police said they were investigating the incident as an accidental shooting and would forward their report, once complete, to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for review. Police have provided no other details about the circumstances of the shooting.

Smith said she did not want to talk about circumstances of the accident, only saying that “the impossible was possible on Friday” and that she and her husband, Chance Smith, were devastated.

“It’s everyone’s worst nightmare,” she said. “We are in so much disbelief, and it’s unimaginable.”

In July 2015, Chance Smith sustained a head injury on the job that left him critically injured and hospitalized for about two months.

Autumn was born about three weeks after he got home from the hospital and represented “hope” and “sunshine” for the family at that difficult time, Megan Smith said.

Smith said she had prayed for “long, beautiful lives” for both their children, Autumn and her 3-year-old brother Liam.

“We had so many things we were looking forward to doing with them, from simple family outings, to watching them grow and graduate and get married and have children, and to have grandchildren,” Smith said.

Now, she said, they will focus on continuing to raise their son and heal from their loss.

Smith said she is leaning heavily on her faith and trust in God. She said the family has received an outpouring of support from friends, relatives and the congregation at their church.

Services for Autumn are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive in Lawrence.

Friends are raising money to help the family with funeral expenses through a GoFundMe page, online at

The page describes Autumn as a child who “was loved tenderly and fully every day of her life.”

The GoFundMe page notes that the family has worked through pain before and plans to focus on healing. It features this Bible verse, attributed to Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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Brock Masters 9 months ago

We have PSAs about smoking, texting and driving, drinking and driving and so on. Perhaps it is time to have PSA's about the dangers of guns, how to properly handle and secure them and the dire consequences of failing to do so.

We have sex education in schools so why not a course in fun safety and the dangers of guns to prevent some of these tragedies?

Time to find solutions that are achievable.

Daniel Kennamore 9 months ago

We can run them right after the 'Fire is dangerous' ad in the 'obvious to everyone' section of the nightly news.

The problem isn't that people don't know the dangers, it's that they don't care and it's too easy for stupid people to buy them.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

PSAs are intended to educate so if they are as you say, "Stupid" then they are the perfect audience.

It is easy to mock and name call -any stupid person can do it, but it takes a level of intelligence to formulate constructive ideas and put them forth. Try it, you may like it.

Daniel Kennamore 9 months ago

You're confusing 'stupid' with 'ignorant'.

Nobody is ignorant of the danger of guns. If someone leaves a loaded gun somewhere a 1 year old can get their hands on it...they are stupid.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

No, but people are ignorant about safe handling, storages, loading and unloading.

With that said, what is your solution for reducing gun deaths? Surely, you have one.

Daniel Kennamore 9 months ago

Let's give the whole 'no guns' thing most of the rest of the civilized world does a try. Seems to be working pretty well for them.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

Okay and how would you do that Daniel considering there is the 2nd amendment and we can't keep illegal drugs and aliens out of our country so how would we keep guns out.

Looking forward to your response.

Linda Aikins 9 months ago

To all of you: May I ask that you be sensitive to the people who lost this daughter and not give them labels. I'm sure they are devastated.

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

Come on Brock. They're just a tool. I think everyone should have several in the house and give their presence no more heed than a blender, or a car, or a tennis racket. I mean, those are all benign tools just the same and we don't regulate those. The forefathers intended us to be able to bear arms and I will not let my right be infringed. Until it ain't in the constitution you'll regulate my guns over my dead body.

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

Now is the part where I act offended by your "name calling" and dig in my feet even further, and exclaim that all you "snowflakes" don't have any better argument so you resort to "name calling" and you should just shut up and quit being sissies. I then will refer to a piece of paper written vaguely by people over 200 years ago who couldn't have possibly written every nuance into that document or have foreseen the future. Which as a concept in and of itself is pretty ridiculous and is one that we only seem to use for this and the bible (adhering to ancient documents as a literal guide). Somehow we can all agree that no one is able to see the future, but we can't then layer that logic with the logic that the forefathers couldn't either.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

Unlike Paul, I take your comment as sarcastic and not to be taken literally.

I do believe that it is a Constitutional right and any regulations must be reasonable and not unreasonably restrict my right to own and carry firearms.

I do believe that gun deaths cannot be eliminated, but can be reduced. New gun control laws are typically feel good but do nothing laws or do infringe upon my right. So, we must look at other avenues for reducing gun deaths, especially accidental ones.

I believe education and training is the key.

To take what I said earlier a step further, we have free clinics and checks to ensure car seats are installed correctly so why don't law enforcement or gun control organizations or gun advocacy organizations host free clinics on safe gun handling, cleaning, and disarming?

We can continue to fight - some to ban guns and some to say over my dead body or we can look for solutions that reduce gun deaths without infringing upon our right.

Laura Engels 9 months ago

Brock, Theodore, and Paul - you are all being incredibly insensitive and inappropriate. This article was not posted for you to approve or deny guns. Though it's a blatant factor, it's clearly stated by Megan that she did not intend for that to be the discussion with LJW; therefore, it shouldn't be in the comments either.

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

Laura, I had the same inclination when I read Brock's post. I thought, this isn't the time or place. But I also remember several other's posts from yesterday and the day before, and I then decided that I agree with these folks instead. When is the time or place? When is the "right time" to discuss guns and their proliferation and their presence in our society? If the death of a one year old isn't the time or place then there isn't one in my opinion.

Laura Engels 9 months ago

Maybe we let that family bury their child first....

Daniel Kennamore 9 months ago

Maybe if we'd had this discussion and actually taken action after the previous thousands of gun tragedies instead of being shot down for 'politicizing a tragedy' they wouldn't be burying their child.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

Why is it insensitive and inappropriate to look for solutions to stop future tragedies like this one. My post wasn't about approving guns or denying them but offering solutions to try to stop gun deaths. Not insensitive at all. Actually, very sensitive to the pain this family is bearing and hoping to find a way to stop others from enduring it.

As Theodore said, if not now then when?

Laura Engels 9 months ago

"Smith said she did not want to talk about circumstances of the accident, only saying that “the impossible was possible on Friday” and that she and her husband, Chance Smith, were devastated."

Though it's a valid concern and topic to discuss gun safety, don't do it on this article.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

Why? Do you really think the parents are going to come here and read comments and even if they did, do you think they'd be upset at a post that makes no judgement, makes no political statement and only offers solutions to try and prevent gun deaths?

Of course, it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, you do not control content here. So I will, whenever provided the opportunity, continue the dialogue on gun deaths and offer solutions to prevent them.

Jillian Andrews 9 months ago

When a child dies because of adult neglect, it needs to be talked about, and often. And god forbid, in this gun-obsessed, moronic country, that something actually be done about it. And guess's 2017. No one gets to say what can and can't be discussed on social media. Pretty sure there's a constitutional amendment covering that...

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

It's sad that we have done this enough in our society there is an official time and place to discuss, as if it has become such common place that there is a script to these tragedies.

Brock Masters 9 months ago

So why not break from the pack and engage in a civil dialogue and look for solutions? Do you disagree with my post and ideas? If so, say why and offer a better solution.

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

I like all of your ideas Brock. I don't think there is a silver bullet and our approach as a society shouldn't set that up to be the expectation. There are multiple small ways to start. The argument is always, "that won't stop gun deaths," but as you said, we can't stop them all. But if we can start stopping them, isn't that worth it? I have never advocated for the banning of guns, I just think we could be much more responsible with them and act as the civilized nation we claim to be.

Daniel Kennamore 9 months ago

It's even worse. At least a lawnmower has a purpose beyond killing and is perfectly reasonable to own one.

How irresponsible does a person have to be to have an unsecured death tool in their home when they have a baby?

Jim Phillips 9 months ago

Hey LJW, since people (and newspaper personnel, for that matter) no longer know the definition of decorum, why don't you shut off the comments for this story? There are other platforms and venues for the gun debate.

Theodore Calvin 9 months ago

Says the guy with the hand gun avatar. Step one, vilify those who oppose "gun rights" and discount their points by taking some sort of moral stance on their timing of their points. Yet another child has died at the end of a gun and we are to take advice at timing of the conversation from Mr. Two Handgun? I suppose this is the time and/or place?

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