Teen Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in the Death of Photographer Killed During a Photoshoot

Teen Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in the Death of Photographer Killed During a Photoshoot

A 17-year-old has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in regards to the death of a photographer, who lost her life in the middle of a photoshoot after she was struck by a log at the bottom of a cliff.

The teenager has now been named in the case as the one responsible for pushing the 74-pound log off the cliff. The log hit Victoria Schafer, 44, a mother of four, as she took pictures of six seniors back in September 2019.

Churchheus had previously faced charges of murder and reckless homicide, to which he plead not guilty, with both now dropped. The judge has recommended Churchheus should serve at least three years – up to 4.5 years - at a juvenile detention facility. He is said to be “truly sorry” for his actions. He is quoted as saying:

That day at Old Man’s Cave, I never would have imagined that my actions would result in this. I have thought about the fact that I caused someone’s death every day since it happened, and I will carry that for the rest of my life. I appreciate the kindness of Ms. Schafer’s family, the attorney general’s office, and the prosecutor’s office in giving me a second chance.

The other teen involved in the incident, Jordan Buckley, also 17, is expected to enter a guilty plea next week in a similar agreement as his peer.

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19 Comments

Tony Clark's picture

He will serve three years for purposely pushing a 74 pound log off a ledge toward a person below? Who actually believes that he cared or even thought about the potential ramifications of his actions? His statement was probably written for him by his Attorney.

Deleted Account's picture

Yes. One would expect killing a person is manslaughter in the absence of intent.

jim hughes's picture

He did a great job of reading the statement written by the lawyers his parents hired. Now it's off to Camp Sociopath for a couple years of recreation and 'counseling'.

Deleted Account's picture

Seems like a pretty light sentence...

R S's picture

This has nothing to do with photography and is clearly here to generate anger and drive clicks.

Deleted Account's picture

Neither does webcam software, but those articles exist on this site so I suppose this is fair game.

Tony Clark's picture

The victim was a photographer and she was shooting senior pictures at the time.

Michael Krueger's picture

It's also a follow up to a previous article, they've reported on this incident in the past so it makes sense to do a follow up.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Well at least it's not another one of their stupid political articles.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Those two evil piece of shits are getting off easy. Ridiculous.

Cool Cat's picture

At 17 years old you are fully aware of your actions. They both should get 10 years in prison.

Alex Reiff's picture

I read a couple articles in local news about this story. Nothing I read indicated whether or not they actually were aware that someone was below them when they pushed the log. Seeing as the charge was reduced from reckless homicide to involuntary manslaughter, I'm going to guess they didn't.

I also don't think that sentence is extraordinarily light for that charge. Granted, this was in a different state, but a guy I knew was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He took hallucinogenic mushrooms and stabbed his friend while he was tripping, and he served 4 years for that, which was on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.

Deleted Account's picture

While there are a load of factors that need to be considered, I think that any sentence in a criminal case where someone was killed should warrant more than a 3-year sentence considering that death is a pretty permanent thing for the victim. Yes, this was likely an accident in that I doubt they were out looking to kill someone, but it was an accident caused by extremely reckless behavior. It's not like they were driving down the street and a tire blew out, causing them to swerve into a pedestrian or something. Nothing I've read seems to suggest that they weren't sober either so they really should have known better.

In comparison to the myriad of "less serious than ending another person's life" things that will land you in prison for much more than 3 years, this definitely seems like a slap on the wrist given how reckless their behavior was. God willing, these kids will realize how fortunate they are and straighten themselves out... I'm sure the judge is taking their age into account and is trying to avoid three lives ending as a result of this incident as opposed to one.

Alex Herbert's picture

I remember posting this when the original story broke, and got piled on by people who seemed to know 'for sure' that he meant to push it on her. A photo of the scene where it took place would help to clear that up.

Jordan Steele's picture

I shoot in this location quite regularly. I believe that the location can be seen in this shot (this is one of the only shots I have looking this way...usually I'm shooting from the bridge or path to the right back towards where the camera was for this shot.)

https://admiringlight.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/fallen_trees.jpg

She would have been on the right edge of the image, or just off of it...with the kid on the trail on the gorge rim above. I can very easily believe that they didn't know anyone was down there, but this is not a remote path, so they should have been at least somewhat aware that someone COULD have been down there. The cliff on the right goes up at least 60-80 feet from the path below (well above what's visible in this shot) and the area below is not visible from the rim trail.

Alex Herbert's picture

Thanks for posting this, definitely adds some insight into the situation.

Rick Rizza's picture

Now the word c-log means cliff log in my head. I'll show myself out

Deleted Account's picture

Dude...

Charles J's picture

Please come back and edit your comment to a single character like a period.