The search for Tracy De Montezuma, the 52 year old Lake Country resident who went missing Sept. 29 after he departed for an evening hunting trip, ended at approximately 3:30 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 4.
The coroner has found that his death was accidental.
De Montezuma’s remains were located by Search and Rescue a short distance from where he had left his vehicle in the general vicinity of Wilma Lake east of Lake Country.
“He took his rifle and was scouting the area for hunting with some friends,” said Barb McLintock, with the B.C. Coroners Service.
“It looks like he was trying to get over some windfall (dead trees) when the gun accidentally went off.”
De Montezuma was wounded in the torso.
“We are still in the preliminary stage of the investigation,” said McLintock.
A five-day search for De Montezuma involved nine search crews from across the Interior, including Vernon.
Friends and family had been helping with the search when De Montezuma was found.
De Montezuma, a resident of Carr’s Landing who was married with one child, had gone hunting by himself for the day in the Wilma Lake area near Beaver and Dee Lake roads.
He was found just 600 metres from where he had parked his truck, well hidden and dressed in camouflage, in an area that had been searched several times by rescuers.
De Montezumo’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.
“It was surprising how he was missed for five days before being found, yet he was so close to his truck,” Bugera said.
Jared Wilkison, president of the Oceola Fish and Game Club, said he understood that De Montezuma had been an active member in the club in past years but he didn’t know him.
“What I’ve been told from others is that he was really savvy in the bush and was in great physical shape,” Wilkison said. “It’s just one of things that happens every once in awhile. When you consider the number of man hours that hunters spend in the bush compared to the number of accidents that occur, it’s a very odd occurrence when something like this happens.”
Wilkison added that De Montezuma was found in a popular area where hunters go, that is widely accessible because of the network of logging roads.
“The backcountry is not as remote as it once was with all the logging that takes place, but it was a bit surprising how long it took to find him,” he said.