A 3-year-old boy in Florida came across a loaded pistol hidden in his father’s home and used it to shoot his two-year-old sister in the chest – causing life-threatening injuries.

Then when the children’s father, Kevonte’ Wilson, tried desperately to rush his critically injured daughter to hospital his car was involved in a collision with another vehicle causing injuries to the occupants of both cars.

The girl and one of the adults were taken to a nearby hospital by another motorist who had stopped to offer assistance after the crash, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Sheriff Judd told a news conference: "It can’t be stressed enough, if you have firearms in your home, keep them away from children.

"A beautiful little girl is fighting for her life right now because another child who didn’t know any better was able to get his hands on a loaded gun."

He explained how the children’s father and another man had been visiting a friend’s house in West Lakeland, Florida to watch basketball.

Just before midnight, he said, the men "heard a pop and they immediately looked to see that the 2-year-old female had been shot and was on the couch, and the 3-year-old scrambled from the living room, running and crying to his bedroom".

The men immediately scooped up both children and piled into a car to get the injured girl to hospital.

But unfortunately, said Sheriff Judd, "a vehicle turned into their path and they T-boned the vehicle on Olive Street, and there were significant injuries from that as well".

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He went on: "No one in that house, that night, intended for those babies to have that event that occurred. Obviously, the 3-year-old's not going to be charged with a criminal event, for obvious reasons.

"That child can't be held accountable for his conduct – there is absolutely no reason to think that that was an intentional act other than he was a baby playing with what he saw was some sort of toy.

"But, we will hold the adults appropriately criminally liable for the conduct."

Wilson, 23, told police that he had "hidden" the Hi-Point CF-380 between the cushions of a sofa to prevent it from being found by one of the children.

He has been arrested and charged with failure to safely store a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Other charges are expected to follow.

Chad Berrien, 24, is the owner of the house where the incident occurred.

He has four outstanding warrants to appear in court, Judd said. Besides those four warrants, he now faces charges of possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a house for drug use.

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