The Nevada hunter hailed as a hero for saving his friend’s life when he distracted a wounded grizzly bear that was attacking him wasn’t killed by the bear but by a gunshot fired by his friend, police now say.
Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe told The Associated Press that an autopsy by the Montana State Crime Lab determined that Steve Stevenson, 39, of Winnemucca, Nev., died of a single gunshot to the chest.
Stevenson and Ty Bell, 20, were hunting black bear along the Montana-Idaho border when they shot what they thought was a black bear. They were tracking the wounded animal when they found it was a grizzly, and it turned on them, first attacking Bell.
Stevenson started shouting at the grizzly, trying to distract it from attacking his hunting companion, the man’s family said.
It appears that when the animal turned on Stevenson, Bell started shooting at it, and a bullet hit Stevenson in the chest, killing him, Bowe said.
“We’re fairly convinced it was obviously an accident,” Bowe said. “But the county attorney will review the final report once we’re done.”
Officials are also investigating the bear’s death, since it is a crime to kill a grizzly bear.