By Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff. From Wilkes Journal-Patriot. Originally posted: June 23, 2016. Original Article.


A man lost his life in a tractor accident near 2232 North Marley Ford Road in the Champion community Thursday afternoon.

Joseph Franklin Church, 76, of 2632 North Marley Ford Road was pronounced dead at the scene, said Jason Reavis, a Wilkes medical examiner.

Reavis said Church was driving a tractor near a small stream while mowing a neighbor’s field with a bush hog mower when the right front tire of the tractor went off the edge of an embankment about two-feet tall.

He said it appeared that tall grass and weeds prevented Church from realizing the embankment above the stream was so close.

Reavis said the tractor didn’t overturn or go completely off the embankment, but Church apparently was jostled off the tractor. Church was pulled under a rear wheel of the tractor as it moved forward and then was run over by the bush hog mower pulled by the tractor, he said.

Reavis said the tractor’s forward movement was stopped about 15 feet away when it came up against a tree.

He said Church was deceased when the owner of the field he was mowing found him. The motor of the tractor was still running, he said, adding that it was a standard size farm tractor.

The Champion Fire Department was dispatched at about 4:10 p.m. Also dispatched were the Wilkes Rescue Squad, Wilkes Emergency Medical Services and Wilkes Sheriff’s Office.