A Vietnam Veteran died Friday as a result of an excavating accident in Onslow County. Owen Ray Jr. was operating heavy machinery when a tree fell on the cab of the machine just after 3 p.m., officials said.
NewsChannel12 spoke with the family. Ray Jr.’s son, James Ray said his dad was someone people could always count on.
"My dad was my super hero," James said.
Ray Jr. was clearing trees in the area with his brother-in-law Frankie on the 100 block of Hannah Ct., in the Piney Green area. James Ray said his father loved to work with heavy equipment.
"When it came to heavy equipment he was the best. It doesn't matter if I say it or if a stranger says it. You know from the outside looking in he was the best," James said.
Neighbors said it looked like a tree became stuck in the claw of the excavator, and when Ray Jr. tried to pull it down the tree fell on top of the machine.
Ray Jr.’s brother in law, “Frankie”, said it was “one of the most freak accidents he had ever seen”.
Frankie was working on another excavator close by when the accident happened.
"I was near him on another machine and couldn't do anything about it," Frankie said.
Frankie said Ray Jr. was a professional in the field and is irreplaceable.
"It was a pleasure working with him every day," Frankie said.
Ray Jr. left behind a family that loves him. The family said they are happy he died doing what he loved.
"He passed away with two joy sticks in his hand, running an excavator, feet on the pedals. Wouldn't have it any other way," Frankie said.
James said Ray Jr. was well known in the Jacksonville community, and was always there to lend a helping hand.
The Onslow County Sheriffs office investigated the death, no foul play was found. OSHA, the occupational safety and health administration, now has the case.