Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Three-year sentence in St. Lawrence accident

Canton, N.Y. – A Saint Lawrence County man has been sentenced to
three years in state prison after admitting to mistakenly shooting
and killing a Norfolk man during a deer drive while hunting in the
Brasher State Forest last October.

St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards on Jan. 7
sentenced Eric Gibbs, 36, of South Colton, to three years in state
prison and to make restitution of $7,288 on a charge of criminally
negligent homicide.

Gibbs had pleaded guilty to the charge in connection with the
hunting accident on Oct. 28, 2007 that claimed the life of Donald
Prashaw, 55, of Norfolk.

According to the Daily Courier-Observer, Richards told Gibbs
during sentencing, “I know that you didn’t intend to kill Mr.
Prashaw, but it is a lot like the Titanic hitting an iceberg. You
engaged in conduct that sooner or later was going to bring us to
that conclusion.”

Gibbs was prohibited from possessing a weapon since he had an
October 2002 conviction for first-degree aggravated unlicensed
operation of a motor vehicle. That charge stemmed from an incident
in St. Lawrence County.

Richards also noted how unsafe Gibbs’ hunting practices were,
adding that it was just a matter of time before something tragic
happened.

“Your case is an example for every person who wants to get a
permit to get a hunting license. Had you taken your time and made
sure of your target, we wouldn’t be here. You let yourself get
carried away on the slippery slope that puts you where you are
today,” Richards told Gibbs, according to the Daily
Courier-Observer.

New York State Police based in Massena said Gibbs was apparently
driving deer toward Prashaw, who was on a stand, when he took a
shot with his .35 caliber rifle at what he thought was a deer. The
shot instead hit Prashaw, killing him.

DEC officials said the hunters involved in the accident were not
wearing blaze orange.

Prashaw was a self-employed drywall installer and Gibbs had been
one of his employees. The two had reportedly hunted with each other
for a couple years.

According to Gibbs’ statement to state police, the South Colton
man described several drives where he shot at deer and missed, not
knowing whether they were bucks or does, before discussing what
happened on the fatal shot.

“I believed Donny (Prashaw) was in his spot, which was up a hill
looking down on me. I then saw a deer move; I’m sure it was a deer
because I saw the white tail and body jump. I couldn’t see its
head. I then lifted my gun up, looked through the scope and saw
movement and took the shot, I later realized this movement must
have been Donny,” Gibbs wrote in his statement.

As he approached the ravine area, Gibbs said he found Prashaw
lying face down with his head toward the water. Prashaw did not
respond when he called his name and he then noticed blood around
Prashaw’s neck, which he tried to stop by wrapping Prashaw’s shirt
around it and elevating his head, Gibbs told police.

Prior to last October’s fatal shooting, the last fatal hunting
accident in St. Lawrence County was on Oct. 26, 2004, when Mark A.
Sharp of Norfolk was shot and killed after his uncle, John C.
Boots, of Massena, shot at a deer and accidentally struck his
nephew while hunting in the town of Hopkinton.

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