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PA: Hunter killed by another hunter who was more than 1500 feet away

Erie Times-News
Article published Dec 20, 2008
By Tim Hahn

Hunter's death ruled an accident No charges to be filed against shooter 

MEADVILLE -- A hunter who had fired at a doe in some East Mead Township woods launched the shot that killed another hunter on Dec. 6, state police said.

Investigators on Friday ruled the shooting death of 33-year-old Michael J. Frye as accidental, and said the hunter who fired the shot will not face criminal charges in the incident.

Police did not identify the male hunter, who lives in Meadville.

Members of Frye's family were notified of the ruling on Friday afternoon. They declined to comment Friday.

"It's just a tragic accident," Crawford County Coroner Patrick McHenry said. "The individual came forward right away and was cooperating from day one."

Frye was hunting alone in an area near his Paden Road home in East Mead Township on the morning of Dec. 6 when, investigators said, he was hit in the right shoulder by a high-power rifle bullet that traveled into his spine.

Frye's mother, Phyllis Frye, found Frye's body hours later, police said.

State police investigators and Pennsylvania Game Commission officers focused on the likelihood that the bullet was fired accidentally from another hunter's gun after an autopsy ruled out suicide in Frye's death.

Police and members of Frye's family said the area where Frye was killed was a popular hunting spot.

"The investigators ... were able to discover lists of people who had permission to hunt in the area," state police spokesman Cpl. Mark Zaleski said Friday.

Investigators said cooperation from the community helped them identify a number of people who were hunting in the area on Dec. 6. That led to the Meadville hunter, who voluntarily provided his firearm for ballistic testing, Trooper Dale Wimer said.

The tests determined that the fatal shot had come from the man's gun, Wimer added.

The hunter was unaware that Frye was in the area when he fired a shot at a doe while the hunter stood along a wooded fence row in an area that was covered by hemlocks, Wimer said. The bullet traveled more than 1,500 feet before striking Frye, who was not visible from where the hunter was standing, the trooper said.

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