67-year-old Gene Collier was hunting on family owned property with his 12-year-old grandson when he mistook a hiker for a bear and fired one shot from his .270-caliber hunting rifle. The bullet hit 20-year-old Christopher Ochoa of French Camp, California. Ochoa, a Marine reservist, was visiting with a friend in the Salem, Oregon area. The two had set off to hike to Silver Falls State Park and were hiking through a field on the way to the park when Ochoa was shot. Ochoa died at the scene.
Collier's wife told reporters her husband had told her he was one-hundred percent sure he was shooting at a bear. But a neighbor said, "I don't understand how you could make that kind of a mistake. You don't shoot at something moving. You have to see the animal you have to know what animal you're shooting."
According to court records Collier has several misdemeanor convictions including a 1996 citation for exceeding the bag limit for black rockfish and convictions in 1991 and 2004 for "violating wildlife regulations." Both convictions resulted in fines.