IMAGE: Justin Beutel

A Mid-Michigan man was killed in what appears to be a hunting accident on opening day of firearm deer season.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has identified the victim as Justin Beutel, 38, of Sanford.

Officials were called to land near the intersection of W. Elder Road and Northeast Torch Lake Drive, near the village of Alden in Antrim County, about 1 p.m. on Nov. 15.

When the conservation officer and EMS personnel arrived, they found Beutel unresponsive. He did not recover.

“Preliminary investigation reveals that Mr. Beutel was deer hunting on private property and was apparently shot by another subject hunting nearby,” said Lt. James Gorno, a district law supervisor with the DNR.

The second hunter, who is not being identified, is a 45-year-old Gaylord man.

Gorno said the two men were not hunting together and it is believed that they do not know each other.

The Antrim County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police are assisting the DNR with the investigation and processing of evidence.

"He was the happiest guy I've ever known," said John Rosas, Beutel's friend.

Beutel was excited for the first day of firearm season. He bagged a buck early Thursday morning on his mother's property in Antrim County and sent a photo to his friend Casey Ensign.

"Last text was he was going back out to get another one," Ensign said.

But Ensign never heard back.

"We know somebody shot him accidentally, we hope. It's very devastating," Ensign said.

Beutel's friend Rosas doesn't know how to react to his friend's passing.

"I'm just kind of numb. He was not only a coworker, but a friend, a brother. He was loved," Rosas said.

Beutel was a motorcycle mechanic.

His friends are remembering him as a good guy with a contagious laugh who wasn't afraid to tell it like it is.

"He'd put in 80 to 100 hours a week. He cared about building people's bikes. He had a knack for building high horse-powered motorcycles," Rosas said.

Beutel worked at motorcycle dealerships like the Great Lakes Harley Davidson in Bay City since he was 18. He had his own shop in Midland. He was a good friend to a lot of bikers.

"We'll miss him. He was a great guy," Ensign said.

"I'll see you on the other side homie. Homie was his thing. That's what he used to say to everybody. And I'll see him again," Rosas said.

Beutel's mom doesn't know how to deal with his death.

"It was so horrible because it was so avoidable," said Theresa Schurman, Beutel's mom.

Schurman said the hunter who shot her son was trespassing on her property.

"He didn't deserve this. He deserved another 30 to 40 years of life and for a really bad decision on somebody's part all over a deer. He loses his life. And if effects this whole community," she said.

In this time of grief, that community is coming together.

One of the ways Beutel's friends are looking to help his family is finishing up the work he started. Beutel had a whole bunch of motorcycles he was working on that were left behind.

"A couple of them were in for some serious performance work. So we're gonna hand them off to some capable hands," Ensign said.

Beutel's wife Whitney said people have been helping her as well.

"Some girls came over and washed my dogs for me the other day, just wanting to help," Whitney said. "I've got hundreds of bikers in my back pocket willing to help us. I think we're going to be OK."

In honor of Beutel, his family is looking to set up a scholarship at the school he learned his craft - the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Arizona.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Continuous News Manager

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