By TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – A 15-year-old boy found guilty of second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing a woman he mistook as a bear will spend 30 days in juvenile detention.
According to investigators, Tyler Kales, who was 14 at the time, was bear hunting with his older brother Aug. 2, 2008 on Sauk Mountain in rural Skagit County, near Rockport.
He says in the fog that shrouded the mountain that day, he mistook 54-year-old Pamela Almli for a bear and fired a shot. The bullet struck her in the head, killing her.
Kales was found guilty last month of second-degree manslaughter. The judge acquitted him of first-degree manslaughter, finding he did not act recklessly However, the judge said firing on an outline in the fog from 150 yards away wasn’t a hunting accident.
“You ignored and broke all the rules handling a gun,” said Gail Blacker, Almli’s sister, at Kales’ sentencing Thursday.
Almli was hiking with a friend on the Sauk Mountain trail when Kales’ bullet hit her.
“Imagine the horror of a friend killed before your eyes,” said Blacker.
Now, Almli's relatives struggle to answer her preschool-age grandkids’ difficult questions about the killing.
“(He) wants to get in his Buzz Lightyear outfit and fly to heaven and bring grandma back,” said Carrie Almli, Pamela’s daughter-in-law.
Kales also spoke before his sentencing.
“I can’t imagine what they go through every day or how they feel,” said Kales, with his voice trembling. “All I want to say is how sorry I am and hope they can forgive me.”
In addition to the juvenile detention, Kales will serve 12 months under supervision with counseling and perform 120 hours of community service. Forty of those hours must be spent teaching others about hunter safety.
The shooting compelled some to push for stricter gun laws in Washington state and others wanted new signs at trailheads to warn hikers of the danger. The Department of Fish and Wildlife says neither has happened.
Bear hunting season in most of Western Washington begins again Aug. 1.