Local News

Well-known Johnston County man killed in lawnmower accident

Posted August 6, 2013
Updated August 7, 2013

— A man died Tuesday evening while cutting grass near a ditch on his property on N.C. Highway 42 in Johnston County, authorities said.

The zero-turn lawnmower rolled over on top of Ray Earp, 64, killing him instantly.

A family member helping in the yard saw the accident and rushed to Earp's aid. Authorities closed N.C. Highway 42 for about two hours while investigating the accident. 

Earp was well known in Johnston County. For years, his farm was the venue for the Brookhill Steeple Chase. He was also the fire chief at the Thanksgiving Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years. 

Josh Holloman, head of Johnston County EMS, said Earp was instrumental in getting paramedics assigned to the fire department. 

Man killed by mower remembered as 'pillar of community' Man killed by mower remembered as 'pillar of community'

"Mr. Earp's dedication and commitment got the resources there and was able to increase the level of service in that area," Holloman said.

Longtime friend Tommy Fitzgerald described Earp as an "absolute, first-class, quintessential gentleman." 

"He was a very good man, a step above a good man," Fitzgerald said. "He will be missed greatly in the community."


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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Aug 9, 2013

    So sorry to hear this.
    Condolences and prayers.

  • torr10 Aug 8, 2013

    I'd be curious to know what happened. He had been cutting that hillside for years. Was this a new mower? What caused the accident? Was there alcohol involved? Was there a vehicle going by that startled him? Was he distracted by someone? What happened? The report says family saw the accident so ask some questions.

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 8, 2013

    "It is good to see that WRAL removed the "funny" remarks from one insensitive poster here." - Disabled Vet

    This is a moderated site. WRAL actually APPROVED those remarks and posted them in the first place! Which is why it's so funny (and sad) when they send you one of those "your comment" emails because someone got offended, when it was them that said the comment was okay in the first place.

    I offer my condolences to the family for their loss. However, I personally disagree with the censorship. I don't always like what people say, but I believe in their right to say it.

    "God was watching over her that day." - baldchip

    Does that mean that God wasn't watching over this man?

  • itsyoureternalsoul Aug 8, 2013

    My only question is about ROPS. Di the lawnmower have it? The saddest part of any story like this is that it could have been prevented.

  • Disabled Vet Aug 8, 2013

    It is good to see that WRAL removed the "funny" remarks from one insensitive poster here.

  • jdo823 Aug 7, 2013

    Tragic accident. My condolences to the family.

  • Whosays Aug 7, 2013

    Yeah this is in no way funny or cute, people don't have a concious before they speak. Sorry for the family, this is so tragic and unexpected.

  • 678devilish Aug 7, 2013

    you are making jokes???

    A man loosing his life is not funny. Have some compassion here. It could very well been your love one.

  • youpeoplearesoentertaining Aug 7, 2013

    @ Obamacare saves lives - A life lost in a tragic accident and you are making jokes??? c'mon!!

  • 678devilish Aug 7, 2013

    A tragic accident. My condolences to the family and friends.