Residents still trying to understand fatal hunting trip

VARNVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- Cummings in Hampton County is on a back road between Varnville and Yemassee, and Shuman's Stop and Shop is where the town comes to talk.

"We sell feed and seed, and you know, corn. Little bit of everything that you could possibly want, we have," said Patty Kollar.

Kollar caters to everyone looking for supplies.

Hunters are frequent customers, including William Heape Sr., who was accidentally killed while on a hunting trip several miles away. Kollar was one of Heape's friends.

"It'd get to the point where I'd say, 'Okay just get out. Just go.' And he'd laugh and say, 'See you tomorrow.' And he'd leave. Just about every time he came in it was like that," Kollar said.

She says losing a customer is always hard, but a tragic death hits close to home.

"You never expect anything like that to happen to anybody you know, especially somebody in a small community like this," she said. "You know, it's just shocking."

As customers and neighbors grieve the loss of a fellow hunter, they try to find some holiday cheer while reflecting on the untimely death of a friend.

"I hope everybody takes more precautions than they usually do because you hate to see this happen to anybody," Kollar said.

Heape was shot and killed on the last day of deer season. The coroner's office has ruled the shooting death an accident.

According to Colleton County Fire's website, Heape was the father of Battalion Chief Ben Heape. Visitation is planned for Herndon's Funeral Home in Varnville at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The funeral will be held at 1 a.m. Friday at Faith Baptist Church in Walterboro. A graveside service will follow at Zahler Cemetery in Yemassee.