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GA: Five fishing and hunting deaths in four days

March 10, 2010

Five fishing and hunting deaths in four days. What happened?

This is supposed to be the quietest time of year for Georgia's outdoorsmen.

Deer season ended in January and gobbler season doesn't open until March 20. Spring fishing and warm weather are on the horizon, but not quite here.

Yet five accidental deaths occurred across the state last week- all within four days:

  • March 5: Christopher Upton, 37, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service officer, was shot and killed by a hunter who mistook him for a coyote. The incident occurred in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest when Norman Clinton Hale, 40, fired high-powered rifle equipped with night-vision equipment. Upton was killed instantly.
  • March 6: Two fishermen drowned in Middle Georgia's Lake Tobesofkee after their boat overturned. The Bibb County Sheriff's Office said 52-year-old Willie Buckles was found Tuesday afternoon near where the body of his uncle, 62-year-old Frank Roquemore, was found Sunday.
  • March 8: The body of 15-year-old Daniel Head was found face-down in shallow water in the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area near Darien. The teen had been hog hunting with his stepfather, Brian Gale, who told investigators the pair became lost. Gale left him to go for help. The cause of death was suspected to be hypothermia.
  • March 8: The body of Ira Braitsch, 64, was pulled from the Chattahoochee River after an accident the previous day in which his boat capsized. A fellow boater was rescued, but remains hospitalized.
  • Accidents typically are a product of numbers. The more people in the field, the greater the likelihood of a mishap.

    Hunting accidents, for example, are most common during Thanksgiving or Christmas breaks, when more people are wandering the forests with rifles or climbing deer stands. Boating and fishing accidents are often clustered around warm, holiday weekends, such as July Fourth or Memorial Day.

    But last week was a quiet time, with few boaters in the lakes and even fewer hunters afield.

    It was an oddity, perhaps coincidence, to have so much tragedy in such a short time. It was also a reminder that accidents can happen under the most routine circumstances.

    Fishing and hunting are some of our safest pastimes, but if you followed the headlines last week, you might be thinking otherwise.

    It never hurts to give some extra thought to being careful, or to expect the unexpected.

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