Investigators have yet to determine a clear cause of death in the case of a Clay County man who died in a weekend hunting accident.
Timothy J. Simonton, 42, of Lafayette, Ind. was deer hunting with a family member near the Clay-Parke county line Saturday. The two separated at around 11:30 a.m., Indiana Conservation officer Paul Harden said. Simonton's companion called authorities around 6 p.m. after Simonton failed to appear for a scheduled meeting.
Conservation officers discovered Simonton suspended from his safety harness below his tree stand. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Clay County Coroner Rick Swearingen.
"It appeared sometime during the day that he had fallen from his tree stand," Harden said. "We're not exactly sure what caused the death at this time."
An autopsy performed Monday should offer a clearer insight into the circumstances surrounding Simonton's death, Harden said.
Several types of tree-stand safety harnesses are widely used by tree stand hunters. Harden said he recommends a full-body harness, which offers more support than a chest or waist harness.
"(Chest and waist harnesses are) good if you can get control of your situation very quickly," he said. "A full-body harness gives you a little more time and freedom to correct your situation."
Harden said it has not yet been determined if Simonton used the harness improperly. Of the many hazards associated with all types of hunting, Harden said, injuries related to falls from tree stands are the most common.
"A lot of deer hunters hunt from tree stands. It's a good method of hunting," Harden said, "but a majority of hunting accidents (are related to) falls from tree stands."