School, neighbors mourn loss of Perry Hall pupil

Boy, 10, killed by crossbow called `good-hearted'

October 28, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

As state officials continued their investigation yesterday into the death of a Perry Hall fifth-grader killed by a crossbow in a weekend hunting accident, friends and neighbors remembered the boy's love of animals and the outdoors.

"It's awful. I'm going to miss seeing him and his little smile," said Susan Collins, a neighbor on Joppa Pond Road whose 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons played with Tyler Stephen Mattison. "He liked playing video games. He was good with the little kids -- giving them piggyback rides. He was kind and good-hearted."

Tyler, 10, a Seven Oaks Elementary School pupil, had a dog, cat and turtle, and often went wading in a nearby pond, said her husband, Michael Collins.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Maryland section misspelled the name of Carol Wingard, principal of Seven Oaks Elementary School in Baltimore County.

Many of the details about the Talbot County accident -- which occurred in the first year of Maryland's expanded crossbow hunting season -- are being investigated by the state Department of Natural Resources. Officials said it could take a week to complete the investigation.

Tyler was killed Saturday evening while hunting deer with his father, Christopher Stephen Mattison, 39, on private property along Norwich Creek Drive in Queen Anne. Tyler was carrying the crossbow; his father was carrying a muzzleloader, said Heather Lynch, a DNR spokeswoman.

The Mattisons had permission to hunt on the property, Lynch said. But she would not disclose whether they were licensed, saying that was part of the investigation.

People stopped by the Mattisons' brick townhouse yesterday to place flowers on the front steps. The family could not be reached for comment.

Carol Winegard, the principal at Seven Oaks, said teachers and staff were too upset yesterday to talk about the accident. In a brief statement, she said that Tyler will be missed. "Tyler was one of our outstanding students in our fifth-grade class," she said.

Guidance and grief counselors were called to the school yesterday to help grieving pupils and staff.

The crossbow season, which includes much of October and part of January, is new to Maryland this year, state gaming officials said. Until this year, only hunters with physical handicaps were allowed to use the crossbow, which has a trigger similar to a gun and shoots an arrow.

The proposal to expand crossbow hunting got favorable responses from some hunters who responded to a DNR Internet survey. A few said it would allow them to hunt with their children, who may have trouble pulling back a traditional long bow.

A 10-hour bowhunter course is offered in Maryland but is not mandatory, officials said. Basics about crossbow hunting are covered in the DNR basic hunting education course.

Maryland requires all hunters younger than 16 to be accompanied by an adult but does not have restrictions on the age of hunters. "I've had kids as young as 8 in my class," said Joe Perozziello, a senior hunting safety instructor from Randallstown.

Fred Coleman, a hunting safety instructor from Fallston, said accidents involving crossbows and other firearms are very rare.

"Most hunting accidents are from people falling from tree stands," Coleman said.

During the 2001-2002 hunting season in Maryland, 28 accidents occurred -- two of them fatal. More than half of the accidents, including both of the fatalities, were caused by falls from trees, according to natural resources police statistics.

Services for Tyler will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Grace Community Church, 11611 Belair Road in Kingsville. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow at Lassahn Funeral Home, 11750 Belair Road in Kingsville.

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