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IMPERIAL, Mo. (KSDK) – A couple who lived in a quiet Jefferson County subdivision had a couple of friends over Saturday night, where they looked at and talked about some of the guns they own.

And then, the unthinkable happened.

David Utz loaded a weapon out of his wife's sight. When his wife picked it up, she thought it was empty, and somehow fired, hitting her husband squarely in the chest, killing him.

"It appears to just be a horrible accident," Capt. Ron Arnhart with the sheriff's department said.

Authorities don't believe the 29-year-old meant to shoot her husband, but they're still investigating whether negligence was involved.

"A lot of protocol, a lot of procedure stuff that we go through," he said, "as far as making sure this is exactly what it is."

They lived in the 2000 block of Treybrook Court, in the Saddlebrook Estates subdivision.

"It's devastating to the whole area," neighbor Paula Vivian said.

Neighbors describe the couple as a happy one, with a young daughter. They'll remember Utz as a man who did more than his share of cleaning snow and helping others on their cul-de-sac.

"He takes care of us," Vivian said. "He's really going to be missed terribly."

Arnhart said this can serve as a reminder of basic firearms safety for gun owners.

When the investigation is complete, the county prosecutor can determine if any charges are filed.

"I feel for her," Vivian said. "Oh my god. How horrible it would be. Poor girl."

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