Massachusetts man killed in state hunting accident Gun lowered from stand discharged, police say

December 02, 1997|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A Massachusetts man who had come to Maryland to hunt deer with relatives died yesterday afternoon in northern Baltimore County when a loaded shotgun being lowered from a tree stand discharged and hit him in the head, police said.

Bryan Sisolak, 41, of the first block of May St. in Peabody, Mass., was killed immediately, police said.

Sisolak and two other men were on the ground shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday -- the second day of deer firearms season (Sunday hunting is illegal) -- when a fourth member of the group in a tree stand used a rope to lower a loaded Ithaca 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun out of the wooden stand, which had a ladder.

The rope hit the gun's trigger, according to police, and the gun discharged all three shots in the magazine. One of them hit Sisolak. No one else was hurt, and police characterized it yesterday as an accident, not a criminal offense.

"The gun was being lowered from a tree stand," said Lt. Charles Rapp, who works in the Cockeysville precinct of the Baltimore County Police Department. "Right now, there is no indication of anything criminal here."

Police said the four men, one of whom was Sisolak's 63-year-old uncle, Frederick Sisolak of the 2700 block of Bay Drive in Baltimore, were regular hunters at the private 600-acre farm where "No Hunting" signs were posted beside the steep, rutted drive leading up to the hunting area.

The farm, at 1140 Cold Bottom Road, is in the Stringtown area. Police did not identify the other two men in the hunting party.

Rapp and Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey said the men appeared to have followed Maryland's hunting regulations. All four had permission to hunt on the farm, were licensed by the state and were wearing the required bright clothing.

Police could not explain yesterday the precise circumstances that led to the gun being fired, and they did not know which of the three shots hit the younger Sisolak. Toohey said the investigation was continuing, and police hoped to gain information from the three surviving members of the hunting party, whom he characterized as "quite distraught."

Yesterday's shooting was the ninth accident and the first fatality of the 1997-1998 deer season in Maryland, in which 100,000 of the state's 150,000 hunters are estimated to be deer hunters, said Richard McIntire of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Deer season opened with a 30-day bow-hunting season from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, followed by a short muzzleloader season. Deer firearms season opened Saturday in most counties, according to DNR regulations.

During last year's season, there were 39 accidents, 20 involving tree stands, McIntire said. For the 1995-1996 season, there were 20 accidents, with tree stands involved in nine of them.

"The main basic rule is whenever you are using a tree stand, unload your weapon -- unload your weapon going in or out," McIntire said.

Pub Date: 12/02/97

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