Freak hunting accident kills Colorado man | VailDaily.com

Freak hunting accident kills Colorado man

EAGLE — A man died in a freak hunting accident when he was crushed against a tree by own truck.

Ray Dean Peterson, 72, of Divide, was hunting with his son, Ray Erven Peterson, 50, and James "Henry" Putnam about 30 miles south of Eagle and 20 miles south of Sylvan Lake.

According to a Sheriff's Office report, the three had been camping and hunting since the afternoon of Nov. 3, and were packing up to leave about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Erven Peterson and Putnam told sheriff's deputies that Putnam was behind the truck, at the tailgate of their 1974 Ford pickup truck, when Ray Dean Peterson, Erven's father, opened the door and climbed into the cab, intending to start the engine so it could warm up.

The truck was parked on a slight hill and when Peterson started it, it began to roll backward, the report said.

Putnam jumped out of the way, and the truck rolled back about four feet. Putnam rushed to the open driver's side door and saw Ray Dean Peterson pinned between the door and a tree. It appeared that his feet were stuck under the front drivers side tire as well, the report said.

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Putnam started calling for help. Erven heard him and bolted out of the tent, ran over and saw his father pinned between the truck door frame and the tree.

Peterson appeared to have been killed quickly, according to the incident report.

There's no cell phone service in that remote area, so Putnam and Erven loaded Ray Dean Peterson in the back of the truck and sped to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where deputies said they were upset and asking repeatedly if there was something else they could have done.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis ruled the death accidental. She said Dean Peterson died of blunt force trauma.

Hunting accidents becoming rare

Hunting accidents are rare, and fatalities are even more rare.

Last year, in the most high-profile incident in recent memory, a 14-year-old Palisade boy bow hunting with his father on Grand Mesa on the Western Slope was killed by an errant rifle shot from a Minnesota hunter.

In the 1960s, nine hunters a year were killed and 24 injured in hunting accidents, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Colorado lawmakers made hunter education courses mandatory in 1970, and fatalities and accidents have declined ever since.

In the 1990s, the average dropped to 1.3 fatal and 11 non-fatal hunting accidents annually. Now, it's down to five non-fatal incidents a year and 1.2 fatalities related to hunting per year, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.