Bigfoot Hoax Turns to Tragedy

I am very sorry, but it is hard for me to feel too badly about Randy Lee Tenley getting killed on Highway 93 on Sunday night in Montana. I do, however, feel badly for his family (if he has one) and for the two teenagers who hit him with their cars. A 15 year old driving down the highway at night hit him first, which caused some swerving around of various vehicles, and that's when a car driven by a 17 year old ran him clean over.

Randy Lee Tenley had dressed himself up in a "Ghillie Suit" which is a form of camouflage used by snipers and other soliders so that they look like a bush. Standing up and walking around in such a thing makes you look like bigfoot. But, the point of a Ghillie Suit is to disuse the visibility of the lines you would normal make (our eyes are good at following lines) so that you blend in, or, essentially, disappear. So, when you walk out into traffic in the middle of the night wearing a Ghillie Suit, you look like nothing and some kids driving down the road who did not need to have killing someone be part of their lives forever run your sorry ass right over.

The story is here.

A Ghilie Suit being properly used. Photo by Flickr user vuokrakamera (


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A 15 years old driving a car? If I would be a police officer I would talk seriously with his father.

@Mauro: The kid's father (or mother) may well have been in the front passenger seat.

US driver licensing laws vary by state. Many states allow 15 year olds to obtain what is called a learner's permit, allowing them to drive under certain conditions, which typically include having an adult with them. This was true of Florida, where I learned to drive, and I would expect it to be true of Montana, where low population densities and long travel distances increase the importance of driving compared to more urbanized areas. (Some states require would-be drivers to wait until they are 17.) Florida did not allow 15 year olds to drive at night; I don't know whether that is true in Montana.

Based on the news report, I'd put full blame on Mr. Tenley here. Dressing up in a costume that is specifically designed to make you hard to spot, and then walking onto a major highway like US 93 at night, is Darwin Award worthy.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 29 Aug 2012 #permalink

It is also not uncommon for young people who live out in the wide open spaces to get a "hardship license" at 15. Might be called something different in Montana, but the idea is pretty simple and sensible. If you live somewhere far away from pretty much everything else and your parents cannot drive you around all the time (for example, they both work), then you can get a license a couple of years earlier than normal... assuming you do quite well at the driving test (and I think there may be a 'demonstrated responsibility' component too).

I hope the kids get over the trauma and can tell their friends "I ran over BigFoot once" - there's something you don't hear at every party.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 30 Aug 2012 #permalink