SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA December 27, 2023 – The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is sharing an update regarding the completed investigation of the November 18 hunting accident on Lopez Island. The evidence gathered lead to the determination that there was no probable cause that a crime was committed, there was no negligence, intent, or recklessness as defined by law, and this is a case of a tragic hunting accident that resulted in the death of the victim.
- On November 18, 2023, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a Hunting Accident on Lopez Island. Deputies, detectives, and command staff worked late into the night during the initial response.
- On November 19, 2023, a detective and two members of the command staff, with the assistance of Snohomish County deputies at the Marble Falls Station, conducted thorough interviews with the other hunter involved and his brother who were cooperative with law enforcement.
- On November 21, 2023, members of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office along with members from WA Department of Fish & Wildlife returned to the scene and conducted a re-creation of the scene as part of the investigation process. During this process, the evidence suggested that the shooter would not have been able to see the victim at the time the shot was fired. Additionally, there was not sufficient evidence to support a “gross deviation” from a reasonable person standard or negligence on the part of the shooter.
“Over the last month, the agencies involved have been working on finalizing their investigations,” said Sheriff Eric Peter in a statement. “After receiving all of the reports and information from the assisting agencies, the determination was made final that this was a tragic accident and there was no probable cause that a crime was committed. On December 26, 2023, two members from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office met in person with the victim’s family to share the results of the investigation.”
Hunting Regulations in the Islands
Hunting locations and regulations are not within the scope of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to determine. Hunting is regulated by the State, and as stated on the WA Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) website, “WA Department of Fish & Wildlife is tasked with responsibly preserving, protecting, and perpetuating wildlife in the state, while maximizing hunting opportunities for all residents,” and The Bureau of Land Management regulates hunting on BLM lands. As with any area where the state allows hunting on public lands, is it always advisable to be cautious when walking or hiking in those areas.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance throughout this investigation: WDFW, Anacortes Police Department, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, San Juan County Coroner, Lopez Island Fire & EMS, Airlift Northwest, and US Forest Service Dept of Agriculture.
“Special thanks to Detective Ray Harvey, Chief Criminal Deputy David Alexander, and Undersheriff Michael Hairston for their tireless efforts into this investigation,” said Sheriff Peter. “We are grateful for your exhaustive efforts on this case and your compassion towards the victim and his family.”