'Into the Wild' hunter fatally shot by police in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:06am IST

JUNEAU, Alaska (Reuters) - An Alaskan moose hunter, whose discovery of the corpse of a wanderer two decades ago helped lead to the 2007 movie "Into the Wild," has been shot and killed by police following a weekend chase through the city of Wasilla, Alaska State Troopers said.

Police said Gordon E. Samel, 52, who played a small but important role in author Jon Krakauer's book about wanderer Chris McCandless, which was made into a movie by Sean Penn, on Sunday fled police who had approached his vehicle in response to a report about possible drunken driving.

"As the state trooper knocked on the side of the pickup to contact the occupants, it drove off and circled around several small businesses in the area," an Alaska State Trooper report said.

It said Samel then led law-enforcement officers on a high-speed chase along the city's main thoroughfare, briefly against traffic, and at times into lightly populated residential areas before he was ultimately blocked at an intersection.

When a state trooper and a Wasilla police officer approached the truck on foot, Samel backed up the truck toward the officer, prompting both the officer and trooper to fire their handguns, the report said. Samel was declared dead at the scene.

A passenger received a non-life threatening injury to one of his arms, and was released without being charged.

Samel was among a party of moose hunters who discovered McCandless's corpse in an abandoned bus in a remote part of the Alaska wilderness north of Mount McKinley.

Krakauer, in writing about McCandless's death, looked to Samel for insights into the young man's behavior, including his agonizing over killing what he thought was a moose.

It was not a moose but a caribou, Krakauer learned from Samel, according to his book "Into the Wild."

"There's a big difference between a moose and a caribou," Samel was quoted as saying in the book. "A real big difference. You'd have to be pretty stupid not to be able to tell them apart."

Samel's family told the Anchorage Daily News that he was a gifted mechanic and auto body repairman, and a "big-hearted outdoorsman who struggled with bipolar disorder." The paper also reported that he was under court-ordered restrictions from a September arrest.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Alex Dobuzinskis and Ken Wills)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

ENTERTAINMENT SHOWCASE

Carcelle No More

Carcelle No More

Louis Vuitton trailblazer Carcelle dies aged 66  Full Article 

Venice Film Fest

Venice Film Fest

Drama of mother starving baby grips Venice fest   Full Article 

McCarthy Marries

McCarthy Marries

Actress Jenny McCarthy marries pop star Donnie Wahlberg  Full Article 

Music Fest Arrests

Music Fest Arrests

Dozens arrested at Made in America music festival in Los Angeles  Full Article 

American Box Office

American Box Office

'Guardians of the Galaxy' wins weekend, tops this year's box office universe  Full Article 

Pacino Speaks

Pacino Speaks

Pacino says crowds charge his batteries at Venice fest  Full Article 

Trip Tips

Trip Tips

Tour the dark side of Copenhagen's fairy tale.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage