Jacob Madsen 2008-05-11

Teen slips on ice, shoots himself fatally in head
PETERSBURG: Boy was hunting grouse with .22-caliber rifle.

By JAMES HALPIN, jhalpin@adn.com, Published: May 13th, 2008

A 16-year-old Petersburg hunter died over the weekend after he slipped on ice and accidentally shot himself in the head, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The hunter, Jacob Madsen, was reported shot at 4:40 p.m. Sunday, when Petersburg police called troopers. The accident happened while the victim and a 17-year-old boy were walking along Dry Straits Road, about 28 miles out of Petersburg, troopers said.

"It appears to be a hunting accident," Petersburg Chief of Police Dale Stone said. "They were walking out of the woods toward their vehicle."

The pair had been grouse hunting when Madsen slipped on ice and his .22-caliber rifle discharged a single shot into his head, according to troopers, who were investigating the case.

After the shot, the older boy, Madsen's friend from school, tried to take the vehicle to town to get help, but the truck reportedly got bogged down in a swampy area, Stone said.

The boy then began running down the road and found three fishermen a mile away who drove their truck back to the scene, loaded Madsen's body into it and started driving him to Petersburg, troopers said.

On the way, an ambulance met them and completed the trip to Petersburg Medical Center.

The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital, troopers said. Troopers responding from Juneau took over the investigation and say they do not suspect foul play.

The accident was unusual for the small Southeast community of 3,100 people 120 miles south of Juneau.

"In this general area, fortunately, this does not happen very often," Stone said. "I can't think of the last time we're had a hunting fatality like this."

What exactly caused the weapon to discharge and whether the boys were following standard gun-safety procedures when the accident happened were unclear.

Area youths commonly go hunting without adult supervision, and most kids start hunting while they are still in high school, Stone said.

Shannon Peeler, Madsen's aunt, described the boy as an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting and riding his ATV. The high school sophomore had started hunting with his father at a young age and knew how to handle a gun, she said.

"You know how young boys are; they love hunting with their dads," she said. "We're still in shock. It was just a horrible, horrible accident."