Hiker shot to death by hunter near Sublimity

NEAR SUBLIMITY, Ore. - A California man was shot to death by a hunter who thought he was a bear about a mile west of Silver Falls State Park Friday evening, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Christopher Ochoa, 20, and his friend Raymond Westrom, 53, were hiking to Silver Creek Falls. At the same time, 67-year-old Gene Collier and his grandson were hunting bear in the area. Collier told deputies he saw what he thought was a bear moving in the brush and fired a shot from his hunting rifle, deputies said.

The shot struck Ochoa, deputies said. He died at the scene.

According to deputies, the 911 call came in just before 6:30 p.m. The caller, Westrom, reported that shots were fired in the 6300 block of Silver Ridge Road SE.

The shooting appeared to be accidental, deputies said, and Collier has fully cooperated with the investigation. There is no indication Collier was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Both Ochoa and Westrom were wearing dark clothing, deputies said.

Collier's grandson was away from the shooting when it happened, and was not a witness, according to deputies.

Ochoa's family told deputies he and Westrom had gone to Salem to work on a house. Ochoa was an active Marine Corps Reservist who was due to report back for duty on Oct. 25.

No charges have been filed against Collier at this time.

KATU Reporter Patrick Preston spoke with Collier's wife Saturday. She would not speak on camera, but said her husband and the rest of the family feel terrible about what happened.

She said Collier is an experienced hunter. He told her he was sure he was shooting at a bear.

Bear season in Western Oregon runs from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31. Hunters are permitted to take one black bear per season, with restrictions on cubs less than one year old or sows with cubs.