In the wake of Alabama’s first fatal firearms hunting accident this season, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries cautions the public on the consequences of violating hunting laws. Thirty-one-year-old Shannon Heath Bell of Flomaton, Ala, has been charged with hunting from a public road, hunting at night, hunting from motor vehicle and hunting without a permit, all of which represent serious threats to public safety. Even more critical, it appears his actions led to the death of another person.
At approximately 6 p.m. Friday, December 2, 2016, Bell and 35-year-old Donna Loraine Martin, also of Flomaton, were illegally deer hunting from a compact pickup truck on County Road 40 near Pollard Landing in Escambia County. According to a preliminary hunting accident report, Bell was pulling a rifle out of the vehicle, stock first, when it discharged, hitting Martin in the stomach. She was taken to Brewton Hospital where she later died in surgery.
Conservation Enforcement Officer David Smith says that most firearms-related hunting accidents are self-inflicted or involve members of their own hunting party. “Any hunting accident is a tragedy,” he said, “but when the parties know each other, it can be particularly difficult for both families.
“This accident could have been prevented,” said Smith. “Hunting is one of the safest outdoor activities you can participate in—if it’s done in compliance with the law and following all safety rules.”
The incident remains under investigation by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
The public is asked to report hunting and fishing violations at 1-800-272-4263 (GAME).