Man killed in tree-cutting accident

Search team found business owner dead in woods near Wilkinson residence

WILKINSON — A Greenfield businessman died from blunt-force trauma when the tree he was cutting fell on top of him Monday afternoon, officials said.

Robert “Ted” Smith, 70, of Wilkinson, was in a wooded area behind his home chopping wood when the tree he was working under split in half, falling onto him and killing him instantly, said Hancock County Deputy Coroner Rudy Nylund.

Smith, who owned Smith Implements, a tractor dealership located on East Main Street in Greenfield, enjoyed chopping wood as a way to exercise, family members said.

He headed out into the woods around 3:30 p.m. Monday, and his wife, Beth Smith, called 911 around 8:30 p.m. when he didn’t return, officials said.

As police headed to the man’s home in 7100 block of North Thomas Road in Wilkinson, search groups comprised of friends and family members began combing the woods looking for Smith.

A neighbor found his body just before 9 p.m., according to dispatch records.

Investigators are calling Smith’s death an unfortunate accident, and family members said they are shocked that the humble and helpful man died in such a way.

Giving back to the community that helped grow his farming equipment business was something Smith took great pride in, said his brother, Chris Smith.

Ted Smith founded Smith Implements, which sells farm machinery and lawn care equipment, with his family in 1979, and has given regularly since then to various community organizations, including the Hancock County 4-H program, FFA and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

The profits from his business were often used to sponsor scholarships for high school students who planned to study in an agricultural field, Chris Smith said.

“It was just the way our parents raised us,” Chris Smith said. “(Ted) didn’t know a stranger.”

In his free time, Ted Smith was an avid golfer, who used the sport to form friendships with people across the region. Splitting wood was a hobby he kept to the weekends to help him stay fit, his brother said.

An autopsy will not be performed on Smith’s body; a routine toxicology test will be completed, though coroners said they do not believe Smith was intoxicated at the time of his death.

Family members said they are planning weekend funeral service, though details have not been released. Condo and Son Funeral Home in Wilkinson is handling the arrangements.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.