Friends and family of a veteran hunter killed in a hunting accident early Sunday morning are remembering the outdoorsman.
Jim Landers was setting up his tree stand when he was shot in the lower back by a fellow hunter who thought he was firing at a deer. Police have ruled the shooting an accident and say neither of the men knew the other was in the area.
Landers was 50 years old and an employee at Hyundai Motors in Montgomery.
Landers grew up in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Alex City. It's a quiet neighborhood in a part of town Shawn Thompson remembered as real life Mayberry 45 years ago.
"That was the most fun I've had in all my life," Thompson said.
Thompson and nine friends freely roamed the streets as children, no fear back then, free to ride their bicycles two miles to what used to be Sue's store. The "Sherwood Forest gang" was led by none other than Jim Landers.
"We'd come here with our two cents, buy our candy and comics and leave," Thompson said.
Landers is no longer among the gang of 10.
Landers' childhood friends were planning a neighborhood reunion this May -- a time to catch up and remember after going in different directions years ago.
"It started with Facebook message in November, one thing led to another and we had planned to get the gang together," Thompson said.
Today, they are remembering Jim Landers for different reasons -- stories about how Landers was such an outdoorsman. It was something he discovered early as a child by spending time with his friends at Snakehill Creek.
"He used to dam it up and we'd swim in the creek," Thompson said.
During this interview Landers' sister Dianne Waites arrived and the grief was palpable, the loss unbearable as Thompson and Waites embraced.
Jim Landers' funeral was held Wednesday night at Alex City United Methodist Church. Waites says Landers' ashes will be spread over mountains in Colorado where he often went hunting.
Family and friends say the neighborhood reunion will go on this spring. They never gave it a thought about cancelling it.
"We're going to do something to honor Jim. We may build a monument," Thompson said.
Jim Landers was said to have had an "outstanding personality" with a kind and caring heart.
"He taught us about love and kindness," said Waites.
It was kindness and warm memories that brought Jim Landers back to Sherwood Forest. Just days before he died, Landers was in the process of buying a home in the neighborhood -- the very home where he grew up.
Monday, January 13 2014 7:50 PM EST2014-01-14 00:50:08 GMT
The ruffling of leaves in the woods in Tallapoosa County caught the ear of a hunter in his tree stand who promptly fired one shot 157 feet away, hitting what he thought was a deer. More >>
The ruffling of leaves in the woods in Tallapoosa County caught the ear of a hunter in his tree stand who promptly fired one shot 157 feet away, hitting what he thought was a deer. It turned out to be a fellow hunter, a friend.More >>