Hunter who died after falling into sinkhole was Marine

He was looking for a deer that he shot with an arrow.

September 17, 2013|by Linda Russell and Gene Hartley, KY3 News |
Michael McCart, Pulaski County assistant coroner

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- A bizarre accident killed a deer hunter while he was walking in a wooded area in rural Pulaski County. He was Curtis Powelson, 31, a Marine stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.

The incident occurred Monday evening while Powelson was bow hunting near his home off Red Oak Lane north of the Buckhorn area.

Around dusk, Powelson told his wife that he just shot a deer and was returning to the woods to try to track the animal.  When he failed to return home, his wife reported him missing to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

Pulaski County Assistant Coroner Michael McCart says, "Myself, I've hunted out there since I was a kid, and the landowner himself had no idea this was out there.  We had several firefighters and deputies that almost stepped into it themselves, just out there wandering around looking for him last night.

Powelson stumbled into a sinkhole about seventy feet deep.  "It's just a horrible accident," says McCart.


They don't think Powelson saw the opening before falling into it, due to it being hidden behind tall foliage, along with the existing low light conditions.  Searchers say they are fortunate that they also didn't fall into the hidden hole.

Rescue crews began searching the woods behind Powelson's house around 10:00 Monday night, and discovered the sinkhole around 3:00 AM.   "They just did a general grid search pattern and they came across the sinkhole and were able to shine lights down there and were able to find him at that point," says McCart.

McCart and a firefighter rapelled in to bring Powelson's body out of the deep hole.  "That one is pretty deep for as new as it is.  Some of the older ones I've seen, they're usually entrances into cave systems," says McCart.

McCart says there was no cave at the bottom, and the sinkhole looked fresh, likely connected to the recent rains.  "From the looks of the sinkhole itself and the lack of debris that's in the sinkhole, it's fairly new," says McCart.

McCart says the landowner plans to put up some type of fence or other warning around the sinkhole.  The U.S. Marine Corp could not yet share any information about Curtis Powelson, but the coroner tells us he was an active duty U.S. Marine stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.

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