‘Full-speed’ marked Camp’s life; tragic death serves as caution
For Panola County Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Bean, Wednesday’s call to come to the scene of an accidental death was ironic. It came from Yalobusha County Coroner Ronnie Stark who was tied up and unable to investigate. (Panola County Coroner Gracie Gulledge, having been temporarily placed on light duty, was also unable to go.)
Then it became personal. Bean said that he arrived at the site on Highway 51 between Yalobusha County roads 724 and 228 to discover that the victim was his friend, Tommy Camp. The tree cutter, who had simply amazed anyone who ever saw him as he maneuvered machinery and made strategic cuts with chain saws to remove fallen trees from houses and property without injury or further damage, had himself become victim of a tree.
“We’ve been friends for years,” Bean said. Bean also said that he and Tommy’s wife, Susan, had worked together at Batesville Casket Company.
Bean said that he and Camp had been planning a Blues concert for Lake Susie, that the success of country music star Luke Bryan’s concert at Thomas Farms last October had added momentum to their interest.
I never saw Tommy Camp that he was not full speed ahead. It was always on display when he was working removing trees. He choreographed his machinery, crew members and chain saws into a fine ballet, seldom wasting moves in heavy work that often continued for hours between breaks.
Then he built the Lake Susie Dirt Track that turned into a family operation attracting dirt track racers and followers. They always wanted to come back. He knew how to make people have fun because he had fun himself.
Those things should be remembered about the colorful character that was Tommy Camp.
There’s something else. Any time any of us pick up a chain saw and look toward a tree, we need to remember him. If this man, who was an expert in handling dangerous tools, heavy machinery and falling trees, could become a victim of such an accident, the rest of us should surely approach such notions wisely, cautiously and reluctantly.