Deputies indicate that alcohol was believed to be a contributing factor in the accident

by: CROOK COUNTY JAIL - Mason Stafford

A Prineville man is facing manslaughter charges after an ATV accident claimed the life of another local resident Saturday night.

Mason Edward Stafford, 31, was operating a Polaris Ranger 900, when he rolled the vehicle. It came to rest on top of 22-year-old Tyler Pierce.

Pierce was a 2010 graduate of Crook County High School and was engaged to be married this coming summer.

Deputies from the Crook County Sheriff's Office responded to the crash, which occurred on private property on Barnes Butte Road at approximately 10:23 p.m. They were assisted by the Prineville Police Department and the Crook County District Attorney's Office.

Upon arrival, deputies discovered that the incident had caused the death of Pierce and minor injuries to two other individuals who were reportedly riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Stafford was taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital by private vehicle, where he refused treatment for his injuries. He was subsequently arrested and charged with Manslaughter in the First Degree, and lodged in the Crook County Jail with bail set at $50,000.

Crook County Undersheriff John Gautney said that manslaughter charges can be based on a variety of factors. In this case, it was based on someone doing something reckless that resulted in the death of another person.

Crook County Undersheriff John Gautney said that because manslaughter is a Measure 11 offense, the sheriff's office was required to make the arrest and lodge Stafford in jail. Although Stafford refused treatment, he could not be taken to jail without first obtaining medical clearance.

"We can't take them in the facility until the doctor has released them to say they are safe to be put in the jail facility," Gautney said.

Stafford later posted bail and was released.

The investigation is ongoing and it is believed that alcohol was a contributing factor in the incident. Gautney said that an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, and that sheriff's office personnel are conducting follow-up interviews.

No other information on the case was made available by press deadline.

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