I-Team Investigation: Deadly Day at Front Sight - 8 News NOW

Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter

I-Team Investigation: Deadly Day at Front Sight

Posted: Updated:
July 2007 -

A fatal accident at the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute is raising new questions about the safety of the facility near Pahrump.

The family of the man who died has filed a lawsuit. Among the allegations is Front Sight staff failed to follow its own safety procedures.

The accident on July 4th is the subject of a criminal investigation. The I-Team learned late Thursday the Nye County sheriff's office plans to recommend felony charges against two of the instructors involved in the accident. Detectives believe their actions rise to the level of criminal negligence.

The victim's family couldn't agree more.

The Valencia family gathered together on July 4th for the "First Family Reunion" as it's called at the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, a gun range and adventure training facility near Pahrump.

Little did they know it would be their last family gathering with all of family present.

911 tape: "Yes, this is Shannon Long, Front Sight, Nevada. I have a medical emergency."

911 operator: "And what's going on?"

911 tape: "So this guy was on the zip line and he hit the lift we use to get them off the zip line. Trauma to the head. When I got to him about two minutes after, he was pulse-less and unresponsive."

911 operator: "Does he have a pulse now?"

911 tape: "No."

911 operator: "We'll get the ambulance in route."

The call is interrupted by Dalia Valencia's screams. From the tower above she watched her husband strike a steel platform and then go limp.

Dalia Valencia, Jesus' wife, said, "When I got there he was dying. He was leaving me. I told him not to leave me that I wanted him here and I couldn't do anything. He then closed his eyes."  

According to a letter sent to Front Sight members, the instructor on the tower released Jesus before his daughter cleared the line leaving the instructor below to pull Valeria to safety while attempting to lower the platform.  

The Nye County sheriff's office told the I-Team that information is consistent with its investigation, except for a missing detail. The platform was operated by a 16-year-old.

Jesus Valencia, III said, "I just saw him, he was hanging from the wire with his arms and his legs just loose, down. He stayed like that for about five, ten minutes. They didn't help to bring him down. They didn't give him any first aid."

Front Sight did not have an ambulance at the facility, according to the sheriff, despite its remote location. Thirty one minutes after the first call to 911 the first responder declared Jesus deceased and then canceled the ambulance and the helicopter on stand-by.  

Dalia Valencia said, "We celebrated 10 years of marriage and because of the negligence of Front Sight, they have taken my husband away and the father of my kids."  

The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute.

Among the allegations is the staff failed to equip Jesus with a certified safety helmet, violated their own safety protocols and then left him hanging from the zip line for more than ten minutes. All of it was in full view of his parents, his wife and his children.

"Right now my kids are devastated. My daughter is devastated," Dalia continued. "I don't want this to happen to another family, to another member, what happened to us."

Though the police are recommending criminal charges, it will be up to the Nye County district attorney to make the final decision.

This is not the first accident at front sight. According to its web site, it's had four accidental shootings. None of them were fatal.

E-mail your comments to Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty.

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