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Toddler killed in handgun accident overcame medical challenges as infant

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 6:08 a.m. MDT

SPRINGVILLE — A clearer picture is emerging of the 2-year-old boy who died after accidentally discharging a gun he found in his home. 

Linkin Leatham was born with "considerable medical complications," according to an obituary, but a startling recovery had him out of the hospital in only two months and with no lasting damage. He went on to be a playful and charming toddler who brought joy and laughter to all who knew him.

"He was a miracle from the beginning, a fighter from the moment he entered this world," the obit states.

The obituary indicated Linkin's heart and corneas have been donated in hopes of blessing another child.

Linkin was the son of Owen Leatham, a Springville police officer, and Melinda Leatham, a part-time city employee. He is survived by one old brother, Strider. 

At the father's request, friends and relatives are encouraged to use the money they might have spent on flowers to "do something memorable" with their families instead. Funeral services took place Saturday.

Deputy Utah County attorney Tim Taylor said the handgun that killed Linkin was not his father's service weapon and did not have any safeties in place. The incident is being investigated by the county attorney's office.

An autopsy will help piece together how the small child killed himself. Both parents were in the home, but neither saw the accident. 

Taylor said the investigation is meant to verify that all the evidence in the case lines up with testimonies given. It is not to press criminal charges. The department is confident the death was a tragic accident.

The autopsy is expected to conclude the investigation.

Linkin's death highlights the need for dilligence in gun safety at all times, Taylor said.

"The gun was left out for not a very long time, and it was basically at eye level for this little guy," he said. "He ran over and was just curious. It's just a real strong reminder to all of us who have weapons that if we carry them on our persons, we need to lock them up immediately. Don't set them down anywhere."  

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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