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AZ: Woman accidentally shot while dove hunting made false report

YCSO: Woman accidentally shot while dove hunting made false report

BY JAMES GILBERT
YUMA SUN STAFF WRITER
September 3, 2008 - 12:50PM

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office is considering filing criminal charges of false reporting in the accidental shooting of a California woman who was dove hunting in near Yuma on Monday.

Charges could be filed against Darby Engles, 38, and her husband because they originally told sheriff's deputies an unknown hunter shot her, according to YCSO spokesman, Capt. Eben Bratcher.

Engles was actually shot by her husband's best friend, who had come to Yuma hunting with them, Bratcher said, and the couple made up a story to protect him.

"If they had told us the truth from the beginning, they wouldn't be in this position," Bratcher said. "It is still considered an accidental shooting. We realize things like this can happen while hunting. There was no reason to fabricate a story."

Bratcher said other hunters who witnessed the accident began contacting the sheriff's office after reading a story in Tuesday's edition of The Sun about the accident. They reported a different version of the incident, he said.

"We have since contacted Engles and her husband, and they have told us the whole story now," Bratcher said. "It is still considered an accidental shooting, but due to the misleading story they told us we could potentially seek charges for false reporting."

Engles originally told sheriff's deputies she had been hunting with her husband on the opening day of dove season, and had sat down on the tailgate of a pickup truck in the area of County 14-3/4 Street and Avenue 2-3/4E to take a break about 8 a.m.

Moments later, she told deputies, she was hit in the left neck, right forearm and legs with birdshot by another, unidentified hunter who had fired at a low-flying dove, apparently without realizing where she was in the distance.

Engles reported she didn't know who had shot her because the hunter who shot her was on the other side of some trees.

Bratcher said it appears what actually happened was the husband's best friend was out in a field about 40 yards away from the pickup where Engles was sitting, and fired his shotgun in her direction while tracking a low-flying dove.

"He swung around tracking this low-flying dove and, without paying attention, fired in her direction," Bratcher said. "So it was actually the husband's best friend who shot her, not some unknown other hunter."

Engles was treated for her injuries at Yuma Regional Medical Center and released.

Accidental shootings or near-misses resulting from shots at low-flying birds are something the sheriff's office receives reports on every year during dove season, Bratcher added.

Dove hunting season continues from a half-hour before sunrise to noon each day through Sept. 15.

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