Elderly man found dead in Wayne forest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

PEDRO - Investigators sought answers late Saturday in the death of an elderly man found along a Wayne National Forest horse trail Saturday afternoon, though his death appears to be natural causes stemming from exertion.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office received a call around 1 p.m. on Saturday after the body of Henry George Ellens, 78, of Ashland, Ky., was located laying outside of his car by riders on the horse trail, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in a written release.

The man's Mazda four-door was stuck in the mud with evidence the tires had spun and the battery was dead. Investigators believe the man had exited the car to find the reason that the vehicle wouldn't move, according to the sheriff's office.

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The victim had no signs of trauma and had all of his valuables - wallet, money, keys and credit card - still in his possession. There was no evidence of struggle and the man had an oxygen tank nearby, Sheriff Tim Sexton said.

"The family has been contacted and they are aware," Sexton said. "I just talked to the coroner (Burton Payne) 15 minutes ago. There are no concerns as far as violence or trauma."

The sheriff said the man, who was reported missing in Ashland, Ky., Sept. 22, likely became confused while driving, ending up on the horse trail.

Investigators believe that a number of factors could have led to the man's death including a previous medical condition, exertion, lack of access to his oxygen, and possibly environmental/weather conditions.