Olympic Hopeful's Dreams Dashed after Guns Mishandled by Airline

Olympic Hopeful's Dreams Dashed after Guns Mishandled by Airline

CBS 13 in Sacramento reports that an Olympic hopeful’s shotguns were allegedly damaged by Southwest Airlines, rendering his hopes for making the Olympic team much more distant. 

Branden Gover, from Turlock, ranked eleventh in the U.S. in the junior division of trap shooting, was accompanied by his parents Teresa and Michael Gover when they attended the National Junior Olympic Shotgun Championship for Olympic-style bunker shooting in Colorado Springs’ Olympic Training Center.

The family returned on July via Southwest Airlines from Denver to San Francisco Flight 292. When they did, CBS 13 reports, the guns were not there, and the next day when they arrived, Gover’s two Olympic-level Perazzi competition shotguns and a military-grade transport case were damaged enough, he says, that it would take $11,000 to repair them.

Teresa Gover said: “When we touched down at SFO we found out that the airline lost both of [Branden’s] guns. Branden was so sick, he kept saying those are my tools, what am I going to do? I have another competition in three weeks.” She said that Southwest Airlines told her the guns were never on Flight 292. After arguing with Southwest, Teresa Gover was told that a supervisor at Denver had them and they would arrive the next day in San Francisco.

Branden’s mother continued, “We had to drive back to SFO the next morning. Upon examination of the guns before we left the airport, we found they were damaged. My heart broke.” 

Branden wrote on his GoFundMe page, “Both my guns… my tools… my pride and joy… damaged! . . . If anyone knows a pelican case is extremely strong… Each gun was wrapped in foam! So for this damage to take place they must have been really thrown around. I am so upset over the damage. But I will hold my head high and continue on to the next competition in 2-3 weeks.”

He told CBS 13:

When they come back dents, scratches, and big ol’ dents in the wood, that’s just not cool for me. Those guns were perfect. I mean, they’re my tools. I make sure they’re oiled, clean, 100% ready to go at any time. I had a gut feeling something bad happened. All I know is there’s dents and scratches that weren’t there before. And it’s pretty hard to scratch up that. Especially that deep, with that kind of case. It’s not easy. It’s either somebody dropped it, tried to get into it, or threw it on the ground . . . it’s up for debate.

He added that he always packages his guns in bubble wrap and covers them in foam, but they arrived damaged, with the latches undone.

Branden said of Southwest: “Do your job a little bit better, that’s all I can say, because people are trying to make careers out of stuff like this.” In the meantime, Gover has to use substitute equipment with which he is not familiar.

The Govers said Southwest offered them a $100 voucher to use on another flight, but the family has decided to drive to the next competition instead. Dan Landson, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, stated that a supervisor with Southwest Central Bagging has “reached out to the family.”

Photo: Branden Gover GoFundMe