Errant bullet claims child in Swan Lake
By Jeanne Sager
SWAN LAKE The bullet that tore through the wall of a Swan Lake home Sunday evening, claimed the life of 16-month-old Charly Skala.
According to police, the Woodbourne toddler was visiting her grandparents with her mom and other family members at the house on Horseshoe Lake Road in Swan Lake when a hunter fired toward the residence.
“It came through the wall, which is not unusual for a high powered hunting rifle,” said New York State Police Captain Wayne Olsen. “It could have gone through both walls of the trailer.”
Instead it came through the kitchen wall and struck the little girl, who was rushed by her family to Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris then on to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla via LifeNet helicopter.
She succumbed to her injuries late Sunday evening.
The hunter, 45-year-old Edward J. Taibi of Howard Beach, Queens, has been arrested and remanded to Sullivan County Jail without bail.
He’s been charged with felony manslaughter in the second degree and he’s facing a list of violations and misdemeanor charges from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police including hunting over bait, hunting over a salt lick, tacking an illegal deer and discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a residence.
Taibi was apparently on a friend’s property near the family’s home when he shot at and struck a deer.
Olsen said he was within 400 feet of the residence when he fired again directly toward the house.
That’s the bullet police say hit Skala in the upper torso.
Although regulations vary, New York State law requires hunters be at least 500 feet from a residence before firing their weapons.
Steve Conklin owns the trailer on Horseshoe Lake Road, which he rents out to Skala’s grandparents.
Conklin said he never gave permission for hunters to be on the land that he rents out.
“I don’t even know who they are,” he said.
That they were near a home was obvious, Conklin continued.
“It’s not anything where George’s trailer is hidden. No trees, no nothing,” he said.
Conklin wasn’t around when the shots were fired late Sunday afternoon, but he said his wife was.
She went out to yell to the two hunters who were there, warning them that they didn’t belong on private property.
“Even after they were yelled at and told to go away, they did their dastardly deed,” Conklin said.
How Taibi ended up on the land beside the family’s home (he is not related) is still under investigation.
Taibi’s hunting license was up-to-date according to Sullivan County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jim Farrell, but he was not hunting in a manner expected of those licensed to hunt by the New York State DEC.
Farrell said his use of a .300 Winchester Magnum, a high-powered rifle capable of shooting a bullet up to a mile, was evidence of that.
“He was hunting deer with an elephant gun,” Farrell said.
Taibi is slated to appear in Town of Bethel Court this morning for a bail hearing.