Clinton man identified in fairgrounds fatality

A man who died while working with horses at the Island County Fairgrounds Tuesday has been identified as Clinton resident Marshall MacElveen.

His identity was released by the Island County Coroner’s Office Wednesday morning. MacElveen was 61.

According to Coroner Robert Bishop, how MacElveen died is unclear. Despite an earlier report that he’d been kicked or stepped on, natural causes have not been ruled out. His injuries were “light” and could have been sustained from a fall.

“All we know is he collapsed in the trailer,” Bishop said.

An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon.

MacElveen was a volunteer with Horsemanship Opportunities for Potential Equestrians, or HOPE, and was in the process of loading or unloading the first of three horses from a trailer just before 11:30 a.m. What happened next is unknown, Langley Police Chief David Marks said. One other person was there at the time but didn’t actually see what unfolded, he said. The person called 9-1-1 and instructed first responders to approach with their sirens off as MacElveen was lying under the horses.

First responders arrived to find the man unconscious and not breathing.

“We spent probably 30 minutes doing CPR, using the defibrillator… trying to bring him back but there was just no sign of life,” Marks said.

According to Marks, it’s highly unlikely MacElveen was kicked, but that he may have been stepped on after collapsing for another unknown reason, such as a medical issue.

“There was basically no way that he could have been kicked; there was just no room in the trailer,” Marks said.

Bishop also noted that HOPE horses are characteristically gentle, that they’re purposefully selected for being friendly and calm.

“The bottom line is we’re just not sure exactly what happened there,” Bishop said.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll have an answer by tomorrow,” he added.

MacElveen had a longtime girlfriend or “common law wife,” but no relatives on Whidbey Island.