The Clay County Coroner's office released a preliminary autopsy report Thursday in the case of Timothy J. Simonton, the Lafayette, Ind. man who died in a deer hunting accident Saturday.
The autopsy, performed by Terre Haute forensic pathologist Dr. Roland Kohr, determined Simonton's death was caused by "hanging with suffocation due to a fall from a tree stand," according to a representative of the Coroner's office. No additional details were available at press time.
Simonton was deer hunting with a family member near the Clay-Parke county line Saturday. The two separated 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.
Several types of tree-stand safety harnesses are commonly used by tree stand hunters. Harden said he recommends a full-body harness, which offers greater maneuverability and more reaction time in the event of a fall than a chest or waist harness. While Harden was not sure which specific type of harness Simonton was using, he confirmed that it was not a full-body 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."