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BC Coroner's investigation says death of Lake Country man in 2012 accidental

A coroner's investigation into the death of a man who died while hunting near Lake Country in 2012 has confirmed the initial findings that his death was accidental.

B.C. coroner Andrew Cave has released the findings of his investigation into the death of Tracy Darren De Montezuma in October of 2012, ruling that the hunter died when the rifle he was carrying through rough terrain discharged accidentally, shooting himself in the chest.

In his report the coroner states the 52-year-old De Montezuma was traversing over some fallen trees in the early evening hours of Sept. 29, 2012, when the 270 calibre bolt action Winchester rifle accidentally discharged as he was either crawling or high-stepping, to get over two fallen trees.

The report states that De Montezuma was by himself, checking out an area near Wilma Lake on Sept. 29, 2012 for a planned hunt the next day when he failed to return home. He was reported missing by his family and an extensive search was conducted by search and rescue crews and family members, who found the man's body five days later.

The coroner says De Montezuma's body was found lying supine on the ground, near two large trees that were laying parallel to the ground, but were held above ground level by other fallen trees.

"The heights of the tree trunks would have necessitated high steps or crawling to maneuver over them," Cave stated in his report. "On the opposite side of the wind-fallen trees a 270 calibre bolt action Winchester rifle was found on the ground with the barrel pointing in the direction of Mr. De Montezuma. The safety mechanism was in the off position."

The coroner stated that De Montezuma had a single gunshot would to the left side of his lower chest and determined the death was accidental. He ruled out homicide and suicide and said the man had no other other health issues.

The coroner did not make any recommendations after his investigation.

A resident of Carr’s Landing who was married with one child at the time of the accident, De Montezuma's body was found just 600 metres from where he had parked his truck, well hidden and dressed in camouflage, in an area east of Lake Country that had been searched several times by rescuers.

De Montezuma’s family was at the scene when his body was discovered, along with many community members who had volunteered to assist with the search.

Dennis Bugera, a friend of De Montezuma’s, described him as an experienced outdoorsman who “knew his stuff,” a good husband and awesome machinist who worked for the K&S Machine Shop in Lake Country.

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