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January 28, 2009
Maine Warden Service: Chief Medical Examiner’s Office
Rules Hunter’s Death an Accident
Augusta– A New Gloucester man who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the last day of firearms hunting season last November died as a result of an accidental shooting while hunting, according to the results of a combined investigation conducted by Dr. Edward David, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, and the Maine Warden Service.
Ernest L. Russell II, 55, of New Gloucester, went hunting alone on Prong Pond Mountain in Beaver Cove Township (Piscataquis County) at approximately 12:15 p.m. Saturday, November 29, 2008. Mr. Russell’s wife notified the Maine Warden Service through Piscataquis County dispatch at approximately 7:30 p.m. when her husband did not return as planned.
Mr. Russell’s vehicle was located by activating its On Star system, and Game Wardens followed tracks in the snow to locate the hunter.
According to Lt. Patrick Dorian of the Maine Warden Service, who supervised the MWS investigation, Mr. Russell fell approximately 21 feet down a hill after slipping on a large snow-and-ice-covered rock. The hunter had been following skidder trails on a ridge at the time.
“He never broke stride as he was walking, and after stepping on the large rock he fell face first down the hill,” according to Lt. Dorian. “In an effort to regain his footing, Mr. Russell’s gun discharged. We feel that during the victim’s fall down the hill, in all probability the gun became cocked and he didn’t know it.”
Physical evidence at the scene was instrumental in the investigation, according to Lt. Dorian.
Dr. David performed the medico-legal examination in this case. Eight Game Wardens and a Maine State Police Evidence Response Team member took part in the accidental death investigation
Mr. Russell’s death was the only fatality during last fall’s hunting season. Since 1964, 12 hunters have died as the result of accidental self-inflicted gun shots.