SIDMAN - Officials said it's still unclear who fired the fatal shot that killed hunter Timothy Bruce, 42, of Ashville.
According to police, Bruce was part of a nine-member hunting party gathered near the 400 block of Seesetown Road in
Adams Township on Saturday afternoon.
About 3:30 p.m., police said, some of the hunters spotted a deer and started shooting.
Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said one of the rounds struck Bruce in the abdomen, killing him.
A Sunday morning autopsy revealed his death was accidental.
Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's southwest region, said the investigation is complicated by the fact that Bruce was with a large hunting party.
"There was not just one person shooting," he said. "We have to piece it all together, reconstruct the scene as best we can. We want to make sure we know for sure who fired the shot and whether it was preventable."
Fazi said officers are looking at whether the shot was fired with carelessness or negligence to determine possible charges.
While criminal charges could be filed if officers find that the shot was intentional, Fazi said investigators are looking mostly at game-law charges.
"There are game-law charges, potentially, for any hunting-related shooting incident," he said. "There's still culpability when you engage in hunting."
If the Game Commission decides to file charges, they will be prosecuted through a magisterial district judge. Fazi said whoever shot Bruce could face a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison.
Officials should know more by the end of next week, Fazi said, but with several days of deer season left, all hunters should be even more careful.
"This is a tragedy that hopefully just reminds all hunters to be absolutely sure before you pull that trigger," he said. "You always have to think, 'If I miss this deer, where is my bullet going?' Or, 'Is it a safe shot?'"