Editorials

Idaho rancher’s shooting: We must be patient for investigation

The downed bull lies on the road bleeding just beyond the family’s ATV on U.S. 95. The emergency responders in the background are unidentified. The body of Jack Yantis was on the road to the left at the time.
The downed bull lies on the road bleeding just beyond the family’s ATV on U.S. 95. The emergency responders in the background are unidentified. The body of Jack Yantis was on the road to the left at the time. Provided by the Yantis family

What happened in the darkness on Nov. 1 along U.S. 95 north of Council was a tragedy. We have yet to hear from anybody who says it wasn’t.

An accident that began with a bull hit on a highway somehow resulted in the shooting death of 62-year-old Jack Yantis, a longtime rancher in the area and the bull’s owner. Two Adams County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the accident — and who have yet to be named — were on the scene. One or both of them shot Yantis, and they are on paid leave pending an Idaho State Police investigation.

Donna Yantis lost her husband and suffered a heart attack. She remains hospitalized. Yantis’ children lost a father and neighbors lost a friend. The two people in the car that hit the bull were so badly injured that they were hospitalized.

The ripples of this tragedy have spread and cut deeply in this rural community. We have heard the family’s account, but not an explanation from the sheriff’s department. As a result, there are many unanswered questions about what happened and why.

Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman held a town hall meeting Tuesday night. Assuming Statesman staff or affiliates were able to get in the facility where Zollman was addressing people, you can look for some accounts about what he said.

As painful as it is for all involved, we must continue to wait for more information to be yielded from the investigation or risk letting a tragedy beget a travesty of justice.

We polled a number of career law enforcement experts in the Treasure Valley. Every one of them said this kind of situation has no overnight solution. It takes time for results to come back from the labs and be measured alongside other evidence. Investigators are still seeking witnesses whose statements must be taken and compared with those of others.

Facts must trump feelings and we must be patient before arriving at any conclusions. Authorities could ease some tension by simply explaining what remains to be done and why it takes as long as it does, which was part of Zollman’s goal.

When the investigation ends there will be work to do — trying to establish more protocols that can prevent accidents such as a vehicle-bull collisions from becoming deadly incidents.

Anything less would only compound the raw tragedy that we can not undo.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

  Comments