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spectr17
12-08-2008, 02:19 AM
Hunter Involved In Shooting Of DNR Conservation Ranger Identified

12/4/08

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA - The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has identified the hunter involved in the shooting of a Conservation Ranger on Thanksgiving afternoon. Cpl. Curtis Wright, 55 years old with 26 years of experience, was struck in the lower left chest area by a bullet fired from a 7 mm magnum rifle while on active patrol investigating an illegal waterfowl hunting complaint. The shooter, Lynn Jeffers who is a 47 year old white male from Port Wentworth, Georgia was hunting deer at the time and according to the preliminary investigation results, was located approximately 70 yards away from Wright when the shot was fired.

Cpl. Wright was patrolling near Hwy. 30 in Port Wentworth on private property. Upon exiting a wooded area onto a railroad right-of-way, he was shot in the abdomen with the bullet exiting his back. The shooter immediately took action to render aid, and transported Cpl. Wright out of the woods on his ATV to meet emergency personnel. Wright was taken to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah by ambulance. He continues to recover from his injury in the hospital and has undergone 3 surgeries to date. The bullet did not damage any vital organs and Cpl. Wright is expected to recover from the incident.

The incident currently is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with the full support of the DNR Critical Incident Reconstruction Team. Mr. Jeffers has cooperated during the investigation and although initially this appears to be a case of a hunter mistaking a person for game, all aspects of the incident will be fully investigated. Any decision on bringing criminal charges against Jeffers will be made upon completion of the investigation.

"One of the ten commandments of firearms safety, which we emphasize repeatedly in our hunter education course, is to always identify your target and the area beyond before pulling the trigger of a firearm - you cannot take back a bullet once fired," says Chief of Law Enforcement Col. Terry West. "Hunters share the woods with several other user groups, other hunters, surveyors, foresters, bird watchers, hikers and others who can be in the woods during hunting season."

The last incident in which a Georgia conservation ranger was injured by shooting was in March of 2001 when Cpl. Leon Tucker was injured on the opening day of turkey hunting season. Four conservation officers in the southeast U.S. have died in the line of duty in 2008, one each from Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida. The last Georgia conservation ranger to give his life in service was Cpl. Rocky Wainwright who died in August 1999 from injuries sustained in an ATV accident while searching for a missing child in Twiggs County.

"These type of incidents are my greatest fear," says West. "We have less than 200 rangers to patrol all of the woods and water of this state. They work frequently alone, at all hours, in the most remote areas of our state. This latest incident is a sobering reminder of the inherent dangers our rangers face every day."

For more information on shooting and hunting safety, contact the local DNR Law Enforcement office or visit the Division website at http://www.georgiawildlife.com.

Media Contact:
Melissa Cummings, Communications/Outreach Specialist (770) 918-6788 or at Melissa.cummings@dnr.state.ga.us