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NY: LI man dies during hunting trip in upstate NY

November 23, 2009

A West Hempstead man who adorned his home with game he had hunted and who took every opportunity to walk in the outdoors and fish, died Sunday doing what he loved during a deer-hunting trip upstate, police and relatives said.

Arthur Thames, 58, died after an all-terrain vehicle accident that occurred as he was hunting in Roscoe, authorities said.

Investigators from the Sullivan County sheriff's office were still at the scene Monday trying to determine what led to Thames' death, which Det. Sgt. Don Starner said was an accident.

Starner said investigators found a spent cartridge near Thames, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Roscoe is on the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains about 100 miles northwest of New York City. It was first reported that Thames had shot a deer and was killed when his ATV crashed and rolled over when he went to retrieve his kill. Starner said investigators are trying to determine whether the spent cartridge was from a shot fired by Thames in an attempt to get help from hunting buddies.

Investigators said the accident occurred sometime after 3 p.m. Sunday.

Thames' daughter, Brittany, said he frequently went on hunting trips, splitting vacation time among wooded upstate lands, the waters around Long Island and his native Atmore, Ala.

"He was an avid hunter and fisherman," said his stepdaughter, Leslie McClary. She said Thames would travel upstate each year for deer season.

"We have deer heads in the living room," said Brittany Thames, 20, Thames' youngest child and a student at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.

She said her father loved spending time in the backyard of the West Hempstead home they lived in for decades.

When he wasn't fishing, hunting or cooking the food he had caught, Thames worked as a supervisor at a liquor manufacturing company in Brooklyn, where he had a reputation for rarely, if ever, missing a day of work, his daughter said.

When he did have time off, he'd shoot upstate or down south six or seven times a year, staying for between a few days to a week. He'd share the meat among friends once he got back home, Thames said, adding that he never left home without kissing his wife of 34 years.

"If he had to choose between a little porgie or a steak, he'd want the porgie every time," Brittany Thames said. "He loved Southern food. He's a very good cook so Sunday dinners were amazing here."

He had mastered the barbecue grill, too, seeming to like to be outdoors as often as possible, much as he was during his childhood, said his daughter.

"He was very funny," Brittany Thames said, "but not a prankster. He liked making you laugh and making you smile. He always had jokes and nicknames for everybody. He was very sweet and he made me feel extra-special.".

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