One family who spent their May Long Weekend camping north of Hinton said they will think twice before returning to camp in the area after allegedly being shot at by a stranger.
The young family of four, who live in Grande Prairie, spent a couple of days enjoying the river and mountains at the Wildhay Provincial Recreation Area, but fled their site around 2:30pm on May 23.
Trevor Feasy told The Hinton Voice he was hiking with his five-year-old son to the river not far from their campsite while his girlfriend was putting their daughter down to nap.The trail emerged into an open rock bed on the shoreline of the Wildhay River where Feasy helped his son cross a small stream.
As he let go of his hand and walked behind him to the water, he noticed a man standing with a gun downstream across the river.
“I was looking at him and he was looking at me and then he pointed a gun at me. I stopped and still looked at him,” Feasy said.
He couldn’t comprehend that someone was pointing a gun at them and stood there for what felt like at least 30 seconds until he heard the first shot being fired.
“I was scared I might get shot, but I yelled out, like I might just be down range, just stupidly,” Feasy said.
After the first shot, he grabbed his son to hide behind a nearby tree that had fallen over and yelled to alert the stranger of their presence.
Between his sons’ red hair, bright pink backpack, and nothing but the river between them and this man, Feasy thought the stranger would have seen them. He continued to yell.
“Then after the fourth shot I realized he could definitely hear me. He was close enough that you would think he could hear me. And I could hear the bullets whipping by and hitting the trees behind us,” he said.
After seven shots, Feasy figured the man was reloading his gun so he grabbed his son and ran back down the trail.
Back at the campsite, his girlfriend also heard the shots but didn’t think much of it until she saw Feasy running full tilt down the road.
Leaving all their things behind, they jumped in the truck and got out of the area.
“We left everything, my daughter’s shoes, food, all we had was a half case of water in the truck and the bright pink backpack that my son was wearing with some snacks for the hike,’ Feasy said.
Once they got cell service along Hwy. 40, they called 911 and waited for their response.
Hinton RCMP officers responded and searched the area for several hours but the suspect of the alleged firearm discharge was not located.
RCMP, with assistance from conservation officers, evacuated and contained the area for public safety. More witnesses were interviewed and RCMP officers were still on scene around 8 pm that night to search for evidence. No one was physically injured in this incident, said RCMP.
Feasy was never a big believer in everyone having guns, but after this experience he feels he should carry a weapon, just in case.
“That’s not a feeling someone should have, especially living in Canada,” Feasy said.
After conducting multiple interviews, RCMP described the male suspect as Caucasian, approximately 6’ tall, large abdomen, approximately 240 lbs, no facial hair, short, and light coloured blonde hair.
He could be wearing a rolled up purple short sleeve tight shirt or t-shirt and white shorts, possibly khakis or surf shorts. RCMP said he could possibly be driving a side by side UTV with a yellow hood up.
RCMP clarified that it had not put out a press release until Wednesday morning, May 26, due to ongoing interviews. The last interview ended on Tuesday evening, May 25.
The investigation continues and the Hinton RCMP are asking anyone who was in the area of WildHay River Provincial Recreation area on May 23, around 2:30 pm, that may have seen an adult male with a firearm matching the description to contact them at 780-865-2455, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com, or by using the “P3 Tips” app.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice