The Wallace Times November 26, 1910
MOTHER DECLARES RANGER
SHOT WEIGERT DURING FIRE
Body of Fire Fighter Exhumed and
Wounds are Not Believed to have
Been Self Inflicted
“It seems to me
to be absolute madness,” was the comment of Forest Supervisor W. G. Weigle today
on the dispatch from Missoula published yesterday in a Spokane paper telling of
the attempt of the mother of the lad to prove that Oscar Weigart, forest fire
fighter, did not shoot himself but was by a forestry official at the time of the
“We have received no notice that Mrs. Weigart is coming here beyond that information given in the newspapers,” said Mr. Weigle. “I don't see that there is the least chance in the world for her to prove anything that is charged.”
The party of men in which Weigart was working numbered about 75 and Ranger Rock had charge of them. He was trying to save them from the flames by taking them up to a rockslide. Weigart became panic-stricken, according to stories from Avery at the time, and shot himself, fearing he had been cut off by the flames and would be suffocated.
The dispatch says of the affair:
“United States government forestry officials will be defendants in one of the most sensational suits ever instituted in the northwest as a result of the death of Oscar Weigart, a forest fire fighter, August 21, near Avery.
Weigart's mother declares that a bundle of affidavits which is carrying with her to Wallace, to back up her suit will show that Weigart was shot down by forestry officials because he flinched at the face of danger.
“Weigart was shot twice and an examination by Coroner Kendrick and City Health Officer E. F. Pease of his exhumed remains calls forth the expression of opinion from both those that the infliction of either wound would have made it apparently practically impossible for Weigart to have fired the second shot. One shot was directly through the heart and the other so close to it that paralysis in all probability would have resulted.
“Mrs. Weigert claims it was the practice of the forestry officials to enforce obedience during stress of great fires at point of the pistol and Weigart was shot down when he showed cowardice.”
According to Mrs. Weigart's own statement, ever since the death of her son she has been haunted by a strong conviction that the young man did not meet death by an act of his own. So strongly has this feeling prevailed that two weeks ago she called upon some of the county officials and explained her convictions, the result being that a week ago last Monday the body of Oscar Weigart was exhumed and examined by Coroner Kendrick, Dr. E. F. Pease and Dr. J. J. Flynn.
The examination showed that two 30-caliber bullets had entered the body in the region of the heart, one, believed to have been the first, striking slightly higher and to the side of the heart, corsing somewhat downward and striking directly against the fifth rib which was shattered. The bone deflected the ball which found final lodgment in the left lung. The second bullet struck just above the heart, passing through the main artery and then finding a resting place in the tissues of the back, immediately opposite the point where it entered the body.
When questioned concerning the position of the wounds and the course of the bullets, Dr. Pease declared that in his opinion Weigert did not commit suicide. He said that it was practically impossible for a self-murderer to hold a pistol in such a position that the projectile would pass straight through the body. The bullet which shattered the rib might have been fired by Weigert, but, were that a fact, the shock would have produced a degree of paralysis which would have rendered the wounded man utterly unable to repeat the shot. The bullet which severed the artery produced instant death.
Asked for his opinion regarding the manner of Weigert's death, Coroner W. D. Kendrick said there was not even a small chance that the young man killed himself, but believes that the which ended his life were fired by another person. The bullet taken from the body is in the hands of the coroner.