Man on tractor killed by tree branch

A Brown County man was killed Tuesday afternoon after a tree struck him while he was driving a tractor.

Jerry Michael Chapel, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma to the head, said Brown County Coroner Earl Piper.

Emergency workers and officers were called to Chapel’s home in the 2500 block of Lanam Ridge Road after his wife discovered his body seated on the tractor, Piper said.

She had been looking for him for at least an hour, Piper said.

The tractor, with a grader bucket on it, was on a trail heading to the back of the couple’s property, Piper said.

Since there were no witnesses to the accident, Piper estimates that the bucket ended up getting stuck on a low-lying tree across the trail.

This caused the 2- to 3-inch-diameter tree to stretch in front of Chapel as he drove before snapping back at him. The tree was caught under one of the tractor’s tires and wrapped around Chapel, Piper said.

“That’s the only scenario we can come up with,” he said.

“It was probably hanging all the way across the trail, slightly above what he normally could have driven through without the bucket up I am sure,” Piper said about the tree.

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.