Bucks County's district attorney has some concerns about safety inside one of the area's state parks.
He expressed those concerns after a judge sentenced a hunter for killing an 18-year-old man sitting on a bench at Nockamixon State Park.
"It doesn't seem right that you can hunt and recreate at the same place. It doesn't seem right to me, but that is, in fact, what you can do at Nockamixon State Park," District Attorney Matt Weintraub, R-Bucks, said.
Weintraub’s comments followed a judge's decision Wednesday to sentence 52-year-old Kenneth Heller for killing 18-year-old Jason Kutt inside the park last October.
“If you are hunting, you need to take care, that we never have to repeat this tragic incident again,” Weintraub said.
Kutt was sitting on a park bench with his girlfriend watching the sunset on October 24, 2020, when he was shot in the back of the head.
Keller didn't come forward until two months later and allegedly told authorities he mistook Kutt for an animal.
“It was horrible, really. To think you’re sitting right next to your girlfriend and you lose your life like that,” Ruth Rinker, of Furlong, said.
At Nockamixon Thursday afternoon, park-goers said hunters need to respect the boundaries.
“There are rules for hunting, and he was hunting near dark, and there's a certain time you’re not supposed to take a shot, and if it was lighter, he probably would have been able to identify,” Rinker said.
“A little bit more familiarity with the laws. There's no way to police that many acreage,” Dana Alvarez, of Ottsville, said.
DCNR, which oversees the parks, tells 69 News about 80% of Pennsylvania's 300,000 acres of state parks are open to hunters.
23 out of 121 state parks are adjacent, or close to, game lands.
“Doesn't really make much sense to me that both of these recreational activities can occur in the same location without more safety precautions,” Weintraub said.
DCNR says it did look into whether more signage or postings were necessary following the incident here last year, but determined they weren't needed.
Meanwhile, both the state representative and state senator who represent the area weren't available for comment on Weintraub's concerns.