A Liberty County High School senior, Austin John Eisner, 18, died from an accidental gunshot wound Sunday at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. The accidental shooting took place Saturday at Coastal Auto Parts and Recycling near Walthourville. Eisner was transported to Memorial by helicopter.
According to a Long County Sheriff’s Office incident report, Eisner had parked his vehicle near the delivery area of the recycling center. A Coastal Auto Parts employee reported hearing a gunshot over the sound of machinery, and three witnesses who were in the recycling center’s scales area saw Eisner fall backwards with what appeared to be an injury to the right side of his forehead, according to the LCSO report. The witnesses tried to assist Eisner while a Coastal Auto Parts staffer called 911, the incident report states.
Eisner’s family and friends created a Facebook page, Prayers for Austin Eisner, to celebrate the young man’s life. The page also offers an account of the fatal accident, stating Eisner’s hunting rifle accidently discharged and shot him in the head when he reached into his truck at the recycling center to retrieve an item. The LCSO report confirms witnesses told deputies the shooting was accidental.
Eisner’s mother, Deborah Eisner Casto of Midway, said her outgoing son “never met a stranger,” and he loved to spend time with friends outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.
“He had a contagious smile and laughter,” Casto said. “When he came into the room, you knew he was there.” She said her son was generous and “would give you the shirt off his back.”
Casto owns Bright Star Day Care in Midway.
“He was a good son,” she said. “He always made sure everybody else was OK.”
Eisner was a duel-enrolled manufacturing student. He attended the Liberty College and Career Academy and Savannah Technical College.
Eisner’s mother said he made the honor roll at school and earned a number of awards. She said he was excited about what he was learning at school.
“He loved his teachers there,” Casto said. “He came home every day and told me all the stuff that was going on.”
She said he was enthused about finishing his degrees at STC and enjoyed visiting area manufacturers.
“He was so loved and will be missed,” Casto said.
“Austin was a very smart, funny and likable young man,” LCCA CEO Tom Alexander said. “We had the pleasure of having him in our welding program last year. He was working on his certified manufacturing specialist credential from Savannah Technical College with us this year and really seemed to have found his niche. I will remember Austin’s great sense of humor and the cool friendship he had with his peers in his class.”
Eisner’s family said the young man’s favorite time of year was deer-hunting season in Wisconsin, according to his obituary. Casto said her son went deer hunting annually for the previous five years, but didn’t have the chance to go this year.
Along with Deborah Casto, Eisner is survived by his stepfather, Sonny Casto of Midway; father, John E. Eisner Jr. of Augusta; three sisters, Amanda Brigham of Hephzibah, Jessica Eisner of Midway and Elizabeth Eisner of Evans; one brother, Johnathon Eisner of Midway; maternal grandparents, Donald and Shirley Kellner of Schofield, Wis., paternal grandfather, John W. Eisner Sr. of Poynette, Wis; great-grandmother, Elaine Mayer of Chelsea, Wis; niece and nephew, Valerie Brigham and Tillman Brigham Jr., of Hephzibah; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation with the family is from 5-8 p.m. today at Carter Funeral Home Oglethorpe Chapel in Hinesville. A viewing will be held from 10-11 a.m. Saturday at Grace Christian Baptist Church, and the funeral service will follow at 11 a.m.
Family members request that those attending the viewing and funeral service dress in camouflage, as Eisner — an avid hunter — often dressed in camo, according to the Prayers for Austin Eisner Facebook page.
Editor’s note: A photo of Eisner appeared on page 1A in the Coastal Courier’s countywide edition Wednesday alongside a story about workforce development. Due to an early deadline mandated by the size of that edition and the countywide distribution routes, the paper went to press before Eisner’s death. We regret any confusion generated by the photo.