2 hurt in gun test at Aberdeen range

September 30, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Two civilians were injured yesterday morning as they tested a new Army gun at a remote firing range at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Louis Freeman, 49, of Aberdeen and George Niewenhous, 52, of Bel Air, employees of Aberdeen Testing Center, were preparing to fire a weapon that uses 20-millimeter bullets when the ammunition exploded in the gun, sending shrapnel flying, said APG spokesman George Mercer. Both men were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

"They were working on a test of a weapon called the Objective Individual Combat Weapon -- it's under development," Mercer said. "It's a gun, and it will be carried by the individual soldier."

Freeman, a weapons tester, and Niewenhous, a test director, were at an outdoor range on the 72,000-acre military facility with two other employees, Mercer said. All four are employees of the Testing Center, which tests weapons for the Army, he said.

"We're not sure what went wrong," Mercer said. " It was not a result of them pulling the trigger and firing it."

Freeman was stable in serious condition yesterday and Niewenhous was in fair condition, a Shock Trauma spokeswoman said.

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