POLK COUNTY -- A Newport man was shot and killed Saturday, Nov. 12, in Polk County near the former town site of Valsetz in what officials are calling a "tragic hunting accident."
At about 2 p.m. Saturday the Polk County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police responded to what was being reported as an accidental shooting approximately 1 1/2 miles west of Valsetz, according to a Sheriff's Office press release.
The victim, Felipe Amado Fernandez Galicia, 32, had been hunting elk with six co-workers when the shooting took place. Investigators said the group had been tracking a bull elk in rugged terrain in the Coast Range when Galicia pushed the elk out and it ran in front of him.
The shooter, identified as 24-year-old Travis Watson of Albany, told police he saw the elk for a moment and lost sight of it briefly. Then he saw what he believed to be the back side of the same elk and fired his rifle, striking Galicia in the back.
Watson and other members of the group attempted to revive Galicia, but he died at the scene.
There were no witnesses to the shooting, police said. However, Watson admitted to police that he misidentified Galicia for the running elk.
According to police, Galicia was wearing light colors and no orange or bright colored clothing the day of the shooting.
"This is a tragic incident in which a bright colored vest and hat might have avoided the loss of life," Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said in statement.
Officials said Watson has been cooperative with police and returned to the scene Sunday, Nov. 13, to help with the investigation. No charges have been filed in the incident to date. The case has been turned over to the Polk County District Attorney's Office for further review.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office, Polk County Search & Rescue, Corvallis Mountain Rescue and Salem Fire Department helped recover Galicia's body Sunday.