Another fatality: State charges hunter for mistaking man for deer
Sadly, the tragic lesson from Ferrum University was not learned by a Chatham-area man who allegedly shot and killed his neighbor after mistaking the innocent citizen for a deer.
On February 21, a Pittsylvania County grand jury charged 62-year-old Harry Hale Jr. with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 57-year-old neighbor Richie Pope, a man who made what some hunters and even state officials consider a mistake: going outside during hunting season without wearing orange clothing.
The incident, according to the Danville Register & Bee, occurred around 5:15pm on Thursday, December 29. Armed with a high-powered rifle that felled the victim from 77 yards away, the shooter, according to the report, was also charged with firing from a vehicle and reckless handling of a firearm.
In November 2009, a hunter named Jason D. Cloutier mistook a 23-year-old Ferrum College student for a deer and fatally shot the young woman. The sentence Cloutier received for killing Jessica K. "Jess" Goode, slain while collecting frogs for a science project, included making post-jail speeches about hunter safety.
At the time of Goode's death, the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries called hers the first collateral death, although some consider the unsolved 1997 shooting of Albemarle citizen Janice Garrison to fall into that same category of an innocent victim of a reckless hunter.
The shooting of Richie, according to the Department, occurred as he walked along the 900-block of Riddle Road, which online maps show to be about a mile from Richie's home in the 1300-block. Riddle is a public road that connects to U.S. 29 about four miles north of Chatham.
Virginia law already has several hunter-friendly provisions including treating private property as anyone's hunting grounds unless otherwise posted; however, no fewer than eight bills were introduced into the General Assembly this year attempting to give hunters a seventh day, Sunday, to shoot animals. Those measures failed.
–story updated 10:33am with location of incidentRead more on: deer hunting