Carroll deputies investigate Woodlawn death

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Authorities asked for help from the medical examiner's office.

UPDATE - Police now characterize the death of a 54-year-old Woodlawn man as stemming from a farm accident, according to Sheriff J.B. Gardner Thursday.

A search began for Claude Gardner after family members reported him missing Tuesday. The search was called off after midnight due to bad weather to resume Wednesday.

But family members found Gardner's body in a creek on his farm on Woodlawn Road at about 7 a.m. before the searchers returned.

Deputies requested an autopsy to find the cause of death. On Thursday, the sheriff said that the results show that Gardner, no relation, had been involved in an accident, possibly with a large animal.

Gardner died due to internal injuries to the chest, the sheriff said. Whether one of the farmer's cattle charged and head butted the man or something else happened to cause those injuries is a matter of speculation without having any witnesses to the incident.


HILLSVILLE -  The body of a 54-year-old man found on a Woodlawn farm Wednesday morning was sent to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Carroll Search and Rescue personnel responded Tuesday evening after family members reported the man missing from his Woodlawn Road home after 7 p.m., according to Sheriff J.B. Gardner.

(The man's name is not being released, pending results of the autopsy.)

Family members had not seen the man for hours, even though he had planned to get together with his mother that evening, the sheriff said. "They were going to pick berries."

As this was unusual, family members got worried and called the authorities.

Searchers continued their efforts until after midnight Wednesday.

Authorities had called for a helicopter from Lynchburg to search with heat sensing infrared technology, but bad weather turned them back, the sheriff said.

Before the search resumed, family members reported to the sheriff's office they had found the man around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

"He was a quarter mile from his house, on his farm," Gardner said.

During their investigation, deputies "found no obvious evidence of trauma," the sheriff said. 

There were no weapons at the scene where the body was found.

 Authorities sought help from the medical examiner's office to figure out the cause of death. Gardner wasn't certain Wednesday when that information would be available, though he hoped it would come in Thursday.