Marc Sutton was killed in "thick woods" near a ski resort last night after it was claimed the expat may have been mistaken for a fast-moving animal.
The 34 year old, originally from Caerphilly, in South Wales, ran a restaurant called Wild Beets with his girlfriend in the small ski resort of Les Gets, close to Morzine.
He died ‘from a single bullet’ wound, said a source, revealing the accident took place in fading light, close to sundown at 6.50pm on Saturday.
The gunman was admitted to hospital "in severe shock" so he could not immediately be interviewed or charged. He is now being investigated for 'aggravated manslaughter'.
Amie Henderon, 38, a friend and neighbour of the of the couple told the Telegraph: “This is a very tight-knit expat community and we are all deeply shocked.
"There is anger too because every year there are hunting accidents.”
Ms Henderson, who runs a local magazine for holidaymakers called Morzine Source, added: “Marc had a lot of friends in the area. We’ll all miss him.”
Dozens of gendarmes surrounded the area where the tragedy happened, as others attempted to contact the victim’s next of kin.
Mr Sutton had been settled in Les Gets for ‘a number of years’, and had many family and friends in the UK too, said sources.
"He is thought to have died instantly after being hit by a bullet fired by a 22-year-old hunter," said an investigating source.
"The accident happened on Saturday evening in thick woods close to the ski resort of Montriond, at about 6pm.
"The shooter went into deep shock when he realised what he had done. He now faces trial and prison."
It is the latest in a serious of shooting tragedies involving innocent passers-by being killed or severely wounded during France’s hunting season, which started last month.
On this occasion, up to 18 hunters were taking part, but apparently failed to notice the rider, who was wearing bright clothes and easily identifiable, according to the investigating source.
"He was on a popular and well used track, although it was hard to get to and would not have been very busy as darkness approached.. It may be that he was mistaken for a fast moving animal," he said.
Prosecutors in Thonon have opened an enquiry into ‘aggravated manslaughter’, and a ‘full investigation is in progress.
Last year a 59-year-old hiker died instantly when he was blasted to death by a wild boar hunter while out walking close to the village of Taulignan, in the Drome department.
It happened during the first few days of the season, which also claimed a 13-year-old boy was mistakenly shot dead by his grandfather with a shotgun.
Then, in October 2017, a woman sitting in her garden was killed after a stray hunter’s bullet passed through her garden hedge.
In November, a deer hunter who was just about to get married was gored to death by a cornered deer who charged him with his antlers in a wood near Paris.
In 2016, there were 18 deaths during hunting accidents in France, and scores of injuries.
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