This is written in reply to Scott Saul's letter published in the Payson Roundup on Oct. 17.
The producer, Karen Epstein of the NBC Dateline show covering the Fish/Kuenzli shooting, called me several months ago about that incident. Someone told her about my years of leading hikes in the area and she wanted to know if I was familiar with the hike Mr. Fish took, and if I knew Mr. Kuenzli and the dogs.
I said, "Yes." She asked me to send her information on the Pine Trail. I did, via e-mail. It included a forest map, condition of the trail, and how difficult it would have been for Mr. Fish. The trail is marked 10 miles, one way.
On the map, I marked where Fish started, where he ended and where the shooting occurred. The producer later came to Payson and went to the shooting site.
Mr. Fish made one terrible mistake on that hike. He took a gun. Without the gun, he probably would have petted Mr. Kuenzli's dogs and had a very nice conversation with him. The dogs are not vicious, and are now in homes. I have been around two of them.
On two occasions, members of the Payson Packers Hiking Club met Mr. Kuenzli while they were hiking in the Preacher Canyon area. The dogs were being exercised with equipment Kuenzli made from tree branches. The dogs were not aggressive.
As experienced hikers, the Packers question one important event of the Fish hike: "How was Mr. Fish going to get back to his car, at least 10 miles away, south of Pine?"
Very early on the Dateline program, Mr. Fish was quoted as saying, "He wanted to exit the trail and walk back to his car." He also was quoted saying, "He tried to use his cell phone to call 911, but could not get reception in the remote wilderness." He is also quoted as saying, "He went to the highway and flagged down a car and the driver called 911 on his Onstar system."
That was an hour after the shooting.
When the Packers do that hike, we drop a car off at the end of the trail to bring the drivers' hiking cars back from the beginning trailhead. Was there a third person with a car who came up from Pine to pick up Fish and was told to leave at once?
Dave Engleman, Payson