Monroeville Teen Killed While Hunting
Police identify victim as 14-year-old Derrick Tolbert
By RUSS HENDERSON
A Monroeville teenager was killed by his teenage cousin in
a hunting accident on Christmas Eve, a short distance from both boys'
houses, police said Friday.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, Derrick Tolbert, 14, and
a 15-year-old cousin went out to hunt deer, said Lt. Mitch Stuckey, chief
investigator of the Monroeville Police Department.
"The two had apparently gone hunting together several
times over the past few years. It's apparently something they did quite
often," Stuckey said.
"They weren't more than a quarter mile from their
On a power line cut-through off Deer Creek Road, a dirt
road just outside of the Monroeville city limits, the two set up a
camouflaged shelter in which they could hide from game, Stuckey said. Around
midday, Tolbert was standing outside the shelter while his 15-year-old
cousin was inside preparing the equipment.
As he did so, he pulled the trigger of a 12-gauge shotgun,
killing Tolbert, Stuckey said.
"He thought the gun was unloaded, and obviously it wasn't.
The same kind of mistake is made by adult hunters all too often," Stuckey
said. "This is a terrible tragedy to happen any time of year, but especially
on Christmas Eve."
Despite the accident, deer season throughout Alabama this
year has seen relatively few deaths so far, said Ray Metzler, hunter
education coordinator with the Alabama Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources' Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
Including this one, Alabama has had five hunting
fatalities since deer season began on Nov. 22, Metzler said. The season ends
Jan. 31, he said.
"In the usual season, you'll see 14-18 fatalities,"
Metzler said. "It sounds terrible to say it, but five isn't a bad number for
being halfway through the season."
In Monroeville, Stuckey initially refused to identify
either teenager involved in Wednesday's shooting, saying the police
department wanted "to show compassion for the families and not expose them
to the public just yet."
He later confirmed that Derrick Tolbert was the name of
the dead teenager after the boy was named by an official with Monroe Chapel
Funeral Home, which is making Tolbert's funeral arrangements. Stuckey still
refused to release the name of Tolbert's cousin. Tolbert was in the 9th
grade at Monroe County High School, according to the funeral home.
"There is no doubt in our minds that this was an
accident," Stuckey said.
"And he wasn't mistaken for game, either. This is a
Neither teenager had a hunting license, and so had never
completed the hunter education course required by state licensing
provisions, he said.
Alabama is one of 49 states with a mandatory hunter
education program. The course, which is open to anyone 10 years old or
older, includes 10 hours of instruction and a written examination.
"You always, always check a weapon to see if it's loaded,"
The area where the two teens were hunting is outside
Monroeville's city limits, but within its police jurisdiction. It is legal
to hunt in the area, Stuckey said.
Visitation for Derrick Wayne Tolbert will be today from 5
to 8 p.m. at Monroe Chapel Funeral Home, 2252 Highway 84 West, in
Monroeville. Services are set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Burial
will be at Bermuda Community Cemetery.
Tolbert is survived by his parents, Edward Neil Tolbert
and Brenda Jean Stabler Tolbert, a sister, Paula
Ashley, and his grandmother, Luvine Stabler, all of
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