An autopsy indicates that a 35-year-old man whose body was found December 1 in a field between Roxana and Kingscreek died of injuries he received in an all-terrain vehicle accident that occurred nine days earlier, authorities say.
The body of Charles T. Fields, who had been missing since November 22, was found around 9:30 a.m., last Thursday in an overgrown field near the intersection of KY Highway 160 and Rise Branch.
Funeral services for Fields were held Sunday at Kingscreek. At the time his body was found, attending Letcher County Coroner Perry Fowler said Fields’s death was “being treated as an ATV accident.” Yesterday (Tuesday), Fowler said an autopsy performed by the state medical examiner’s office showed that Fields died from head, neck and chest injuries he suffered after the red Honda ATV he was riding left the roadway.
Fowler said the nature of the injuries suffered by Fields indicate that the ATV rolled over at least once while Fields was still aboard.
Sgt. Barry Engle of the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department said Fields’s body was found after one of his family members spotted the wrecked ATV. Engle also said it appeared as though Fields, whose body was found about 75 feet from KY 160, had been thrown from the ATV after it flipped. He said the vehicle traveled several more feet before it came to a rest behind a clump of bushes.
Engle believes Fields’s body and the ATV wreckage went unseen for nine days because it was hidden by overgrowth that still had leaves before they were “knocked off” during hard rains on November 30, Letcher County’s first heavy rainfall of the season.
“Unless you were really looking for it you wouldn’t see it,” Engle said.
Engle said evidence found at the scene indicated that the ATV had been traveling at a high rate of speed and had “turned over multiple times.”
Family members and friends had been conducting a countywide search for Fields since he was reported missing on Thanksgiving. One family member, Beck Fields of Jeremiah, said she and others had been to what seemed like “every mountaintop and holler” in Letcher County to follow up on tips from concerned citizens who believed they had seen Fields or an ATV like the one he had been described as riding.
Family members became concerned about Fields on November 22 when he didn’t show up for the second day of visitation being held for his late uncle at King’s Chapel Church at Whitco. That concern grew to deep fear the next day when Fields didn’t attend the funeral of the uncle, Orville Lee Fields, whose grave he had helped to dig on November 20.
“That’s when we all knew something was wrong,” Beck Fields told The Mountain Eagle earlier this week.
As the days passed without Fields being found, family members worried that he may have been the victim of foul play since he was believed to have left the home he shared with his mother with $800 in cash. Two Kentucky State Police detectives were assigned to the case after the body was found.
Those responding to the 9-1-1 call at Kingscreek last Thursday in addition to Engle and Fowler were KSP Trooper Adam Hall, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene, KSP Detectives Chris Collins and Joe Dials, and members of the Letcher and Kingscreek volunteer fire departments.
Funeral services for Fields held December 4 at the Kingscreek Community Church. Burial was in Fields Cemetery at Cowan.
Fields was a son of Mary Lou Fields, with whom he lived at Kingscreek, and the late Larry Fields. Surviving in addition to his mother are two sons, Tori Thomas Fields of Premium, and David Holbrook of Jenkins; a daughter, Tamara Smith of Premium; a brother, Jonathan Fields of Sandlick; and a sister, Pamela Green of Kingscreek.
Letcher Funeral Home of Whitesburg had charge of arrangements.