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Hunter Who Shot Hiker to Face Manslaughter Charge

Posted by Andrew Engelson at Aug 12, 2008 11:05 AM |
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According to today's Skagit Valley Herald and the Seattle Times, the 14-year old hunter who accidentally shot and killed hiker Pamela Almli on the Sauk Mountain Trail Aug. 2 will be charged with first-degree manslaughter. According to the article:

"[prosecutor Rich] Weyrich said that the teen failed to follow several guidelines in the state’s hunting safety manual — mainly being sure of a target and what lies beyond it in the bullet’s path.

The boy, a licensed hunter who took the hunting class when he was 9 years old, is required by state law to know and follow the regulations."

The article also says that the boy will be charged as a juvenile, and could face up to nine months in a state juvenile detention facility.

In related news, the Tacoma News Tribune published an editorial urging that state law be changed to require an experienced adult hunter to accompany hunters under the age of 18. The editorial also asks why hunting is allowed on high-use trails. And on his blog, hiking guidebook author Craig Romano wonders why hunters were on Sauk Mountain when bears have been so abundant on more remote trails this season.

As I mentioned previously in my blog, we've received many passionate comments on this topic both on our blog and in emails. Please continue to send us your thoughts. WTA is looking into opportunities during the next legislative session to revise the laws that allow minors to hunt unaccompanied by an adult. And we'll be in conversations with Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Forest Service and other land management agencies to find ways to increase hiker safety on trails.


Hiker shot by hunter

I have been an avid hunter and hiker since I was old enough to go up a trail and old enough to shoot. There really are no such thing as hunting accidents. Even an accidental discharge should never cause an accident, and won't if the firearm is always kept pointed in a safe direction. Education is the key, and for the most part the hunter safety classes required have done a fine job of improving the safety of hunters. It is a lot different now than it was 30 years ago. But they are only as good as the student as this incident has proven. Any good hunter would not be hunting over a hiking trail. After all, bear and deer are averse to humans and will be over the next ridge faster than you can go 100 feet. Success requires cross country travel to basins and ridges where nobody in their right mind would go for recreation. However, hunters do carry weapons and use trails to get to the locations where they begin their cross country frolics, and we sometime cause alarm in the more animal pacifist faction of hikers who don't know anything about hunting or the regulations. this was brought out in the blogs and even calls from some of my friends asking exactly what are the hiking laws and seasons. Most had never heard of a hunter safety class or that there was bear season that was open.
I have serious doubts that further regulations will accomplish anything except for requiring hunters under 16 or 18 to be directly supervised. There are plenty already but who is going to enforce them? I have never seen a game officer in the woods in my life, and haven't seen one on the dirt roads for 10 years. A deputy sheriff might visit a trailhead, does he ever go up a trail? Seen a forest service employee on the trail lately? We all know this is never going to happen.
Also, what would constitute hunting on a trail? If I have a loaded pistol in my pack and a bear tag am I hunting? What if I wear it on my hip?
The way I see it young huters need direct supervision and education about firearm and hunting safety, hikers need to educate themselves about where hunting occurs, what the seasons are, what they should wear, how they should act. Smart people wear bells, talk on the trail, wear colors so bears will recognize them and leave. Don't you think it would be smart to do the same around hunters of bear?
None of us need knee jerk politically motivated reactions. What we need is to all think about it, and educate everyone about how to be safe out in the woods.
And if we need a regulation that will really save lives in the woods how about one that requires everyone more than a mile in to carry the 10 Essentials and know how to use them? Or a $50 ticket for wearing flip flops up Granite Mountain? We have a nanny culture that legislates all kinds of things to protect us from oursleves and each other, but they haven't found a way to get fools to use their brains yet and never will.

Posted by:

Greg Shuey on Aug 12, 2008 12:31 PM

Killing for sport

So you are for or against supervision for kids with high powered rifles out casing popular hiking trails?

"I have serious doubts that further regulations will accomplish anything except for requiring hunters under 16 or 18 to be directly supervised."

So being supervised is bad? You state that there is no way for law enforcement to enforce laws - shouldn't then responsibility for their childrens actions be placed on the parents? Your correct they can't be everywhere - and this is where supervision comes in. You know - kinda like how a kids birthday party at that age would be supervised. But alone in the woods with rifles - nah why bother right?

and then you state:

"The way I see it young hunters need direct supervision"

Now you directly contradict your previous sentences and agree supervision is good? Seems more likely that hunters spazing out against any kind of common sense is more of a knee jerk reaction, but that's just my opinion of course.

I to received my hunters education training when I was young - but not 9. That's just foolish to belive that kid learned anything except how to pretend he is listening. And unforunately I am correct.

And the scariest aspect of your thought pattern is how you associate people being upset a 14 year old gunned down a woman in broad daylight with nannism. The 10 essentials. Flip flops. Cold blooded murder. Yeah i see the big connection. Brilliant insight there sir.

Posted by:

Jake F on Aug 13, 2008 12:37 PM

Bells and colors

"Smart people wear bells, talk on the trail, wear colors so bears will recognize them and leave. Don't you think it would be smart to do the same around hunters of bear?"

Smart people don't shoot other people on trails.

Next, the article clearly states the victim was wearing bright colors.

She was also aware that bear hunting season was open.

And she was on a well marked trail popular with humans - NOT bears as you yourself stated.

Posted by:

Jake F on Aug 13, 2008 01:02 PM

whoa now

there is a huge difference between cold blooded murder and a hunting accident, or manslaughter. while a legal definition it is important to use the correct terminology when trying to maintain your stance in a valid discussion. otherwise any good point you make will be disregarded by your emotional hyperbole.

you have really good points. just take a couple of deep breaths before you attempt to make them.

Posted by:

Joshua Green on Aug 13, 2008 10:24 PM

hiker safety

My name's Brian Adamowsky, and I'm a reporter with the Wenatchee World. I'm working on a story about hiker safety, in light of the tragic death of Pamela Almli, an experienced hiker who was shot on Sauk Mountain by a 14-year-old kid who mistook her for a bear. What are your opinions on this? How can this be prevented from ever happening again? Do hikers worry about things like this happening to them? Give me a shout with your thoughts.

Posted by:

Brian Adamowsky on Aug 20, 2008 07:21 PM