Dix, IL (KSDK)- An Illinois family wants to use their tragedy as a lesson for others.
On July 21, a 7-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her ten year old brother, Christian Clark of Granite City.
Jason Clark, Christian's uncle, describes what happened as a "tragic freak accident."
While the family is devastated, they want to emphasize the importance of gun safety.
"One minute he's there having a cheeseburger eating contest with me and an hour later he's gone," said Clark.
He says what started off as a fun weekend in Dix, Illinois with his nephew and his 7 year old sister Halee turned into a nightmare.
"I was there on the property with my dad and Christian and Halee and I was the one who found Christian," said Clark.
The Jefferson County Sheriff says Christian's sister Halee accidentally shot him while they were staying on their family's property two weeks ago. He says the two were alone in an r-v used as a hunting cabin when Halee picked up a loaded rifle.
"My dad and I were 200 yards away and they were only alone for less than a minute. In an instant everyone's lives changed," said Clark.
Jason describes his nephew as brilliant, fun and full of life.
"He was just an incredible little boy with big dreams. He always wanted to be a volunteer at the zoo. He wanted to work at the zoo. His hero was Jeff Corwin and Steve Irwin," said Clark.
Jason says he has no idea how a loaded rifle ended up in the r-v.
"Christian, Halee, my children, my nieces and nephews, all of us have always been around guns. We always hunted. It's just something that we've done. Gun safety is something we have always practiced as a family. Gun safety is something my dad preached to me since I can remember. It is something he and I taught to our children and his grandchildren," said Clark.
That's why Clark says he still cannot believe it happened to his own family. He says he learned an important lesson from this tragedy.
"You can just never be too safe or too cautious. You can never be too responsible. If you have guns you need to make sure that it's secured properly and then check again. Make sure ten times if you have to. It's important to me so they never have to experience what my family has experienced over the last ten days, the devastation and the heart break that we have experienced by losing Christian," said Clark.
Jason says his family is trying to create a memorial at the St. Louis Zoo in Christian's honor.
Contributions can be directed for the tribute in memory of Christian Gregory Clark and made payable to the Saint Louis Zoo Association. For more information call the zoo at 314-781-0900.