A British mountain biker has been shot dead by a hunter in the French Alps. The man, named locally as Marc Sutton, was shot on Saturday evening while riding on a mountain track near the ski resort of Montriond, close to the Swiss border. The 34-year-old reportedly owned a restaurant in the nearby ski resort of Les Gets and was originally from Wales.
The tragedy occurred in thick woodland at around 6 or 7pm on Saturday as he sped through in fading light. He was killed instantly when a stray bullet shot by a 22-year-old hunter hit him, reports the BBC.
Amie Henderson, a friend and neighbour of Mr. Sutton and his girlfriend, told the local media: “This is a very tight-knit expat community and we are all deeply shocked. There is anger too because every year there are hunting accidents.”
“Marc had a lot of friends in the area. We’ll all miss him.”
Following the incident, the gunman was taken to hospital and was said to be suffering from “severe shock.” An enquiry has been launched for “aggravated manslaughter” and he will face trial and prison
Philippe Toccanier, prosecutor for the Thonon-Les-Bains region, said that the death was believed to be an accident and that the cyclist certainly “couldn’t be confused with game, as he had a coloured helmet and a coloured mountain bike”.
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The death is the latest in a series of shooting tragedies involving passersby being killed or severely wounded during France’s hunting season, which started last month. In Saturday’s incident, up to 18 people were taking part in a hunt when Marc sped down a wooded path on his bike, according to the investigating source.
“He was on a popular and well used track, although it was hard to get to and would not have been very busy as darkness approached,” said the investigating source.
“It may be that he was mistaken for a fast moving animal.”
There are frequent calls for the hunting of boar, deer and other animals to be banned in France because of the number of deaths and injuries that have resulted from it. In 2016, 18 people were killed in hunting accidents in France.