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Elk hunter acquitted of killing skier by mistake

TT/Clara Guibourg · 29 Dec 2011, 15:00

Published: 29 Dec 2011 15:00 GMT+01:00

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The 32-year-old hunter had held her license for six years when her first elk was felled in December 2010 with a single shot, a shot with tragic consequences.

Just 60 metres beyond the felled beast lay a 71 year-old cross-country skier in the snow in Ljungby, in southern Sweden

The bullet which killed the elk had contined, hitting the skier and killing him instantly

”We tried to resuscitate him, but it was impossible,” said the woman to the police.

The incident occurred in Ljungby, in southern Sweden, in December 2010.

The 32-year-old woman faced manslaughter charges for the incident, but the court ruled on Thursday she was innocent on all criminal charges.

According to her lawyer, the incident has been hard for the hunter overcome.

"It's an incredibly tragic experience for everyone involved, not least for the family of the victim, of course, but my client has also take this quite hard," said lawyer Lars Cronqvist to news agency TT.

A forensic analyst wrote in his report that ”bullets travelling through felled animals are probably not that uncommon but the chances of something like this happening are extremely slim”, reported Aftonbladet after the incident.

Henrik Barnekow, a hunting consultant at the Swedish Hunters Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet) in Kristianstad, told TT at the time that it is not uncommon for a shot to pass through an elk or any other game.

However, he has never heard of a bullet continuing on to kill someone.

Story continues below…

"However, there have been incidents of a bullet ricocheting out of the game, continuing and killing the hunter's dog situated near the prey," he added.

According to the association's communications director Christina Nilson-Dag, hunting accidents injuring a person not involved in the hunt itself are extremely rare, occurring at most once every ten years.

In 2002, a Lithuanian berry picker was shot and killed by an 80 year-old hunter who believed the berry picker to be a moose. The 80 year-old was convicted of aggrieved manslaughter.

"It is the only accident of this nature that I can recall," said Nilson-Dag.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:18 December 29, 2011 by johan rebel
"Aggrieved manslaughter" What the heck is that?

These heroic hunters may not shoot all that many innocent passers-by (although Nilson-Dags memory seems to be pretty poor), but they are really good at shooting each other and their own dogs, instead of the intended prey animals, which they prefer just to injure. It is surprising that Sweden's nanny state bureaucrats have not yet taken away the hunters' guns, and given then security blankets and thumbs to suck instead.
17:01 December 29, 2011 by RobinHood
Swedish prosecutors have far too much discretion about what cases they bring to court. Rogue prosecutors like Marianne Ny have taken on and mismanaged hopeless cases that have exposed Sweden to international ridicule. Or Jörgen Larsson who is prosecuting a newspaper editor and journos for doing their job exposing rampant gun crime in Malmö. These eccentric prosecutions in no way help the victims, or benefit the public good. They bring fear and financial hardship to the accused (imprisonment in the Assange case), and consume huge amounts of taxpayers' money.

Prosecutors who bring such cases should be publicly criticised by the judge, disciplined by their bosses, and put in charge of the paper clip department until they take alternative employment. Even better, they should be made to personally repay to the taxpayer, and to the defendants, the wasted costs incurred through their stupidity.
18:20 December 29, 2011 by Grokh
yet another reason hunting is stupid.
18:21 December 29, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
so apparently its ok for hunters (aka cowards who kill defenseless animals) to kill people now while on 'the hunt'.

i feel sorry for the skier :(
19:40 December 29, 2011 by johan rebel
Yeah, it beats me how this hunter could be found not guilty!

No matter how unusual it is for a bullet to pass through its intended target, the hunter has an absolute legal responsibility to ensure that no person is in the line of fire. This so absolutely fundamental when using firearms for whatever purpose, that there is no excuse whatsover for getting it wrong. In any country but Sweden the shooter would have been convicted of involuntariy manslaughter.

During the elk hunting season Swedish forests are full of tottering and doddering idiots, some over 90 years old, who are somehow considered fit to own and use a firearm. The only good news is that they sometimes shoot themselves or their comrades dead. The younger hunters are apparently no better. Many of them can't tell butt from barrel, let alone hit a stationary target, let alone a moving one.
20:38 December 29, 2011 by Dazzler
As a hunter myself, I have to say the shooter should of been convicted of at least involuntary manslaughter. Your #1 responsibility is to know 100% what you are shooting at and to make sure your line of fire is wide open far beyond your intended target. Criminal recklessness, pure and simple.
20:43 December 29, 2011 by dizzymoe33
As a person wielding a gun you need to be aware of your surroundings before firing your weapon. It is a tragic accident.
21:08 December 29, 2011 by Roy E
It seems as through the correct verdict was reached.

It was a highly improbable tragic accident. Vindictiveness rooted in speculation accomplishes absolutely nothing.
22:19 December 29, 2011 by Scorch
A hunter is responsible for having something behind the target to catch the bullet. But if I understood this case correctly the bullet changed course (as a ricochet I presume) after it hit the elk.

This is nothing but a tragic accident. But I still gotta ask: who the hell goes out skiing during hunting season?


No it's not OK.

Do you know that driving a car is dangerous? People can jump in front of it.

and many animals are not defenceless. Try walking between a wild boar and its offspring.
23:42 December 29, 2011 by blursd
First rule of hunting ... know your background before you pull the trigger. Involuntary manslaughter via gross negligence at the very least.
00:19 December 30, 2011 by biddi
johan rebel : agreed 100 per cent!!

scorch : what moron would be walking between a boar and its offspring?

To me, hunters are mere cowards killing innocent animals.

Smaland was full of these half-baked cretins. Anyone can point a gun. I have no sympathy for any hunter not least this female hunter

00:41 December 30, 2011 by Scorch

No one. Thats the point. The boar is not defenceless.

And I really dont want to go through this discussion again but:

1. No not anyone can point a gun. At least not legally. You need licenses.

2. Without hunters, and especially without skyddsjakt (dont know what its called in english) we would see an increase of car accidents and damage done by animals. Because they would multiply and come closer to the cities.

My sister has been in 2 car accidents involving elks and she's only 24 years old. So who knows, you or me maybe have a bullet to thank for our lives
01:32 December 30, 2011 by biddi
scorch : I have seen 'hunters' (killers) at the side of the road with their guns propped up aiming into the forest. I have seen the towers (torn) where the brave hunters sit and await their unsuspecting quarry. So brave! You see photos of groups of 'men' together with a dead elk in front of them - aren't they admirable? Always excuses to kill. Even the Danes and the Germans come over to kill the Swedish elk. Have they run out of them in their own countries?
02:58 December 30, 2011 by Investor612
Looks like Sweden cities have as many idiots as American urban centers; people so divorced from the reralities of life they imagine themselves superior because the meat they consume comes neatly wrapped in cellophane.

This was a freak accident, nothing more. As for the person who commented on theaccidents during hunting season: Send thousands of people off to do just about anything, for example a long walk, and some will walk in front of cars or fall down steep inclines.
04:37 December 30, 2011 by Reason abd Realism
This article (and the first one about the arrest) once again fails to supply a critical piece of information about the case, namely, it does not tell us if the hunter shot at the Elk in a direction that was directed along a cross country ski trail.

Shooting along a road is illegal and incompetent, and shooting along a public ski trail is equally incompetent, and should also be illegal, and would be grounds for a conviction of involuntary manslaughter.

If she shot in a direction that was NOT aligned with a trail, namely across a trail, or if the skier was not skiing on any trail when he was hit, then she could reasonably be found to be innocent of involuntary manslaughter.
05:05 December 30, 2011 by swedepie
I find it interesting that hunting is allowed in an area where others would be allowed to cross without limits or caution.
08:56 December 30, 2011 by blik
There should be an IQ test for a gun license
09:23 December 30, 2011 by Liquidmonkey
@ #9

really? your comparing hunting to cars?

people NEED to drive around. its a fundamental part of society.

hunting is NOT.

and a mother protecting its children is not a good example either. ANY animal would do the same, even you.

although its a tragic accident the hunter should always be aware of their surroundings.

if your not 110% sure about your shot, DO NOT take it.

and what? hunting season = everyone else must stay indoors? total BS.
09:34 December 30, 2011 by calebian22
60 meters beyond the target? Good grief, that's only 65 yards for those who are metrically challenged. This acquittal is an injustice.
10:45 December 30, 2011 by Da Goat
I am totally amazed that people don't know about perspective an Alg at x metres is at least twice as big as a man a further 60 metres away, plus there may have been foliage in the interim gap so there is a good chance the female hunter did not see or hear the unfortunate man quietly skiing on passed for forever!

in short if she did not deliberately shoot the guy and took reasonable care, then she is entitled to go free from the law but still guilty in her own troubled mind, it must be terrible for both parties!
11:49 December 30, 2011 by skogsbo
Judging by most of the commrnts above;

- most of you are not in sweden, nor have ever bern

- most are probably city dwellers

- most dont know this area of sweden and its complete lack of msn made ski trails, only forest breaks and lanes there.

- most dont grasp norway and swedens open access allowing folk roam where and when they like

-most dont understand hunting permissions and access

-most dont know how many times harder it is to get a gun licence comp

ared to us or uk.

-most have never looked through a telescopic sight at a moving target

I could go on, the odds of the round hitting this guy were massive. It was just a very unfortunate accident.
12:58 December 30, 2011 by Scorch

The towers are a great way to avoid accidents like the one in the article. And who said anything about being brave? Thats not how hunters see themselves. A bullet is the fastest and most effective way of killing a wild animal. If hunters used anything else, people like you would probably go on about animal cruelty instead.

So you think it's wrong to kill animals. I don't care.... but if you're going to argue against it, be sure to know what will happen if hunting is banned.

I don't have a hunting license myself but I grew up with it. My father has land that danes visit from time to time. Trust me, they're can go home without seeing as much as an ant and still be as happy.


Read #12 to understand why hunting is necessary. And i gave the example of the mother protecting it's child because you said they're defenceless. Apparently they're not

And I agree on the 110%. But you and I cannot be sure of the circumstances in this case.

And no, everyone shouldn't stay indoors. As #15 wrote, shooting along a road is illegal. Since she wasn't found guilty, we can assume this guy wasn't on a road and probably not in a public ski trail either. THAT is idiotic during hunting season
13:52 December 30, 2011 by calebian22
As I live just north of Ljungby, the forest in general is not dense. It looks alot like the stock photo. 60 meters in a Småland forest? Not generally Amazon dense. Sweden just doesn't like to prosecute people who show remorse. Remorse doesn't bring back the skier though.
15:05 December 30, 2011 by skogsbo
The density of a forest depends on the age of the trees and stage of thinning. It will vary massively over just 1km. If the hunter should have seen the skier, the reverse applies. A swede of that age would be very aware of the hunting season, locations etc. Plus many hunts put signs out. It no excuse, but you have to accept some responsibilty for your own safety, i know its no longer the done thing in the global blame culture.
17:04 December 30, 2011 by tadchem
There are many factors involved here that contributed to this tragedy. The shooter failed to verify the safety of the range. The skier may not have made himself visible enough while skining in an active hunting area. The gun may have been too powerful for the intended target, of the wrong kind of ammunition may have been used.

The real crime would be if we all failed to learn from this incident.
22:54 December 30, 2011 by dizzymoe33
Yes I have been hunting before with my father and so I do know the dangers and the responsibilities it takes in order to use a weapon. You still need to be aware of your surroundings. But the bottom line it is a sad tragic event. Usually the places where you can hunt in the US are far away from the towns, cities so to try and avoid an accident like this from happening. People just have to try and be aware of what is going on especially when it is hunting season and they are out in the woods walking, skiing, etc.
10:42 December 31, 2011 by wakak
I guess that if the skier had not been dead, he would have been prosecuted for spoiling the pleasure of the 'peaceful' elk hunter!!!

Seriously speaking, this country is totally uspide down in terms of values and justice...
14:10 January 1, 2012 by johan rebel
The cardinal indisputable fact here is that the hunter shot and killed a skier. That should NOT have happened, and would not have happened if the hunter had excercised reasonable care, regardless of trajectories etc. You cannot just asume there is nobody in your field of fire, you need to know for a fact.

As for hunting zones, there is no such thing in Sweden. There are hunting seasons, during which hunting takes place on both public and private land. That does not prevent the general public from simultaneously using that land for various other purposes in accordance with allemansrätten. Hunters are under an obligation to take that into account. Otherwise most of Sweden would periodically become a no-go area for the general public. Where I live, I would be confined to my garden and public roads during various elk, deer & fox hunting seasons, i..e. about half the year. That would be ridiculous.

If you hunt on land to which the general public has access, the onus is on the hunter to protect the public from harm. If you can't shoulder that responsibility, then book a hunt at a game farm in South Africa, where you can take potshots at anything that moves without risking the lives of innocent passers-by.

Like hunters everywhere, the Swedish ones are generally amazingly inept and incompetent. Just take a moment to watch them in action. Firearm skills are sorely lacking, and let's not even mention the subject of marksmanship. This is a fraternity of trigger pullers, not squeezers. Very few would pass the tests required to become, say, a trails guide in South Africa.

Cheap guns, cheap ammo, and a strong reluctance to waste any time and money on target practise seem to be the norm. Very few grasp that perfect control of a reliable high-quality firearm and constant realistc target practise are required to become a safe and proficient shooter.

That such a sorry state of affairs is allowed to persist in risk-averse, nanny state Sweden may come as a surprise, until you realize how much influence Jägarförbundet has, and how much money the taxpayers give them to throw their weight around.
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