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BIATHLETE DIES AFTER ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING

A biathlon participant was killed Saturday after he fainted and fell on his rifle, shooting himself under his chin.

Salt Lake Police Lt. Mark Zelig said other participants saw what was happening and tried to grab the gun from Todd Mitchell, 27, Salt Lake City. They told police that Mitchell appeared very pale as he aimed the .22-caliber rifle.Mitchell was shooting after completing two of three 1.6-mile running loops in the biathlon, at the Lee Kay Center for Hunter Education, 6000 W. 2100 South, at 10:30 a.m..

Three men also shooting at targets noticed Mitchell going unconscious and grabbed the weapon, but the victim's finger was wrapped around the trigger, said Mark Bearnson, manager of the Lee Kay facility. Mitchell fell forward and lowered the weapon just as the rifle fired, hitting himself in the head.

Mitchell was flown via helicopter to University Hospital, where he died Saturday afternoon.

Bearnson said 80 people participated Saturday morning in the biathlon sponsored by the U.S. Biathlon Association. Bearnson said all but a few of the contenders were from Utah.

A summer biathlon consists of three running loops and two rounds of shooting. The participants run 1.6 miles, fire five shots prone, run 1.6 miles, shoot five shots standing and then finish with another 1.6-mile running loop.