BOY MAY FACE CHARGES IN FATAL HUNTING ACCIDENT August 13, 2008
Modern hunting rifle. Joachim Baecker 2005. Used with permission
(SKAGIT COUNTY) -- The Skagit County prosecutor’s office says a 14-year old bear hunter from Concrete who accidentally shot and killed a 54-year old hiker after he mistook the woman for a bear, may face a charge of first degree manslaughter in the death.
The county’s prosecuting attorney Rich Weyrich said the boy’s actions fit the description of recklessness in that the boy failed to follow basic safety guidelines. It is alleged the boy failed to positively identify his target before firing a weapon and failed to identify what was beyond the target when he pulled the trigger that unleashed the fatal bullet.
The boy was legally hunting with his 16-year old brother at the time of the accident. The boy was legally allowed to hunt in Washington State without adult supervision since he took a hunting class at 9 years of age.
Fifty-four year old Pamela Almli, a hiker from the small Snohomish County community of Oso near Darrington, was shot in the head August 2nd on a marked hiking trail as she bent over to put an item into her backpack.
Ms. Almli was struck with a high-powered .270 caliber hunting round fired from a rifle. Police allege the boy fired in the direction of the woman hiker from about 120 yards away.
The young hunter would not face significent jail time if charged and convicted in the killing. According to the prosecutor’s office the boy would face only up to nine months maximum in juvenile detention if charged and convicted of first-degree manslaughter.
The hunter’s name has not been released.
As a result of the accident and the public uproar that followed it, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department is now considering new hunting regulations and possible age restrictions for hunters as well as ways to possibly separate hunters and hikers to a greater degree during hunting seasons.