A misdemeanor charge has been filed on the Eastern Shore against the father of a Baltimore County boy killed last month in a crossbow accident, Maryland Natural Resources Police announced yesterday.
Working with the Talbot County state's attorney, police charged Christopher Stephen Mattison with one count of reckless endangerment in the death Oct. 25 of his 10-year-old son, Tyler, said Col. Scott Sewell, superintendent of the Natural Resources Police.
Mattison, 39, of Perry Hall, was served with charging documents Tuesday at his attorney's Baltimore-area office, Sewell said.
The charge carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Talbot County State's Attorney Scott Patterson said his office would prosecute the case, although he left it up to police to decide whether to file the charge against the father.
"After we reviewed our findings in the case, we felt that there was sufficient reason for the charge," said Sewell, who declined to provide details of the police investigation.
Police attempted to reconstruct the accident scene at a news briefing Oct. 31 in Queen Anne.
According to the police, father and son were hunting on private property there when the boy was shot in the chest with a crossbow. The boy, who had never handled a crossbow before, was climbing down from a tree stand, the crossbow in hand, when the accident happened.
Mattison could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sewell said that while Tyler's death was a tragedy, the father had violated state law.
"We are not out to cause the family any more grief," Sewell said. "Our hearts go out to the family."
Tyler, a fifth-grader at Seven Oaks Elementary School in Baltimore County, had never participated in the state's hunter safety program and did not have a hunting license as required by state law. The father had a license.
"I would stress that everyone who wants to take a child hunting should first have the child attend a safety course and get a hunting license," Sewell said.
While disabled hunters have used crossbows for close to three decades, this season was the first that all hunters could use a bow.
Tyler's death is the first involving a crossbow in the state, according to Department of Natural Resources officials.
It also was the first hunting fatality of the year.