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Tyrone man faces charges in fatal hunting accident

Markel charged by Game Commission

A Tyrone man faces charges in a December hunting accident that claimed another man’s life.

John J. Markel, 56, of Tyrone was hunting with 42-year-old Mahlon Osterhout in a wooded area off Route 453 north of Tyrone at dusk on Dec. 2 when he shot Osterhout while trying to down a whitetail deer, according to the charges.

State police determined Osterhout’s shooting death to be a hunting accident and turned the case over to Pennsylvania Game Commission wardens who charged Markel on Thursday with one misdemeanor count of shooting at and killing another person while hunting, along with summary charges of unlawful killing or taking big game and drinking on Game Commission public land.

The two men were hunting together when Markel shot at a doe he saw that was about 75 yards away, according to the charges. Not knowing if he hit the animal, he walked toward the last spot he saw it after Osterhout asked him over a walkie-talkie if he got the deer. Markel then shot again. Markel saw movement in some thick brush where he assumed the deer had run and he shot.

Markel walked toward the direction of his shot but then followed a blood trail in another direction that led to the deer that had fallen. He started to gut the deer and when he didn’t get a response from Osterhout over the walkie-talkie, he went to look for him.

Osterhout was shot in the neck and was not breathing when Markel found him, so he ran to Route 453 to find help, the Game Commission investigation concluded.

The charges indicate Osterhout had alcohol and drugs in his system and state police found beer cans in Markel’s vehicle when it was searched after the shooting.

Markel was charged by a summons and is scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller on Oct. 20 for a preliminary hearing on the charges.

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