The Chowan County 911 central communications director died Saturday after his son's deer hunting rifle accidentally discharged into his chest in the yard of a family member's residence in Plymouth.
Carlton Franklin Jackson Jr., 46, and his son, Carlton Jackson III, 25, of Elizabeth City, and other family members had been hunting in the morning on the first day of deer season.
After breaking for lunch, the hunting party prepared to go out again around 2 p.m. The younger Jackson was checking his rifle to make sure it was safe for travel when it went off, said Lt. Kevin Sawyer of the Chowan County Sheriff's Office.
No charges are pending, and the investigation continues, he said.
Jackson was well liked and known for his professionalism. He worked for Edenton and then Chowan County for 23 years as a dispatcher before becoming director of Chowan County communications in 2007.
"When you lose somebody like that, you feel like you've lost a piece of your heart," said Edward Goodwin, chairman of the Chowan County Board of Commissioners. "He will be sorely missed."
Jackson was a lifelong resident of Chowan County and was well known as a great family man, good Christian and good at his job, said Jimmy Alligood, a Chowan County commissioner.
Jackson participated in Civil War re-enactments and was very familiar with guns. An avid hunter, he often hunted on family-owned land near Plymouth, Alligood said. He was known for his focus on safety.
"It was a terrible accident," Alligood said.
Fatal hunting accidents have declined over the years and are relatively rare in the state. In the 2008 and 2009 fall and winter hunting season, three people were killed in North Carolina hunting-related accidents, said Geoff Cantrell, spokesman for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Only one fatal accident was firearm-related, he said. The other two were connected to falls from tree stands, devices hunters use to sit high in a tree waiting for passing deer.
From 1990 to 2000, an average of five people were killed in hunting accidents each year, according to a Wildlife Resources report. From 1980 to 1990, the annual average was 8.
Funeral services will be held for Jackson at 2 p.m. today at Edenton Baptist Church. Jackson is survived by his wife and three children.