A former Corry City Police officer was killed on Saturday in a hunting accident in Warren County.
Gary R. Hunt, 64, was hunting on State Game Lands 197 when a firearm was unintentionally discharged, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Hunt had been crossing a creek behind his nephew while they were hunting bear. While crossing the creek, Hunt’s nephew tripped, or slipped, and the gun, a .270 caliber rifle, discharged behind him.
Hunt retired as a lieutenant with Corry City Police in 2020, after 35 years total as a police officer in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Retired Corry police chief Rich Shopene said Hunt was more than an excellent police officer, he was an excellent person.
“Gary always cared about the citizens of Corry,” Shopene said. “He handled everything with compassion and caring, and was always there just to listen to people, whether they were an arrestee or a victim, he would always listen and help.”
Shopene said after 27 years of having worked together, they were like family and had a strong bond.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Gary’s family,” he said, noting Hunt’s wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. “Words can’t describe what they must be going through.”
Shopene said with Hunt, he couldn’t have asked for better.
“It takes a really special person to be a small town police officer. Everyone knows you and everyone expects the utmost professionalism from you at all times,” Shopene said. “And I couldn’t have asked for better. This is a great loss to the community.”
Jason R. Amory, Wildlife Conservation Officer supervisor with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said this type of incident is extremely rare, though no less a horrible accident.
“We have a million hunters out there every year, and not even a handful of incidents like this,” Amory said.
As far as safety measures go, Amory said one can never be too careful, even though experienced hunters may be following all the usual rules, such as wearing orange, which was worn in this case.
“Some hunters don’t load their firearm until they reach the spot where they want to hunt,” he said. “Those who like to hunt and keep moving may take other precautions. You can never be too careful.”
Calling hours are on Tuesday at Corry First United Methodist Church, 650 Worth St., from 3 to 8 p.m. with the funeral service on Wednesday at the church at 11 a.m.
Shopene said he knows community members are trying to wrap their heads around this tragedy.
“It is hard to understand what happened and why it happened,” he said. “But, one thing for sure is that Gary left Corry a better place because of his work in the community.”