JOHNSTOWN - An area man was killed Saturday when the tractor he was using to move a tree flipped over and pinned him to the ground.
Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said Chauncy Sobkowicz, 22, was working with his grandfather, Donald Sobkowicz, to move junk cars from a property at 589 W. Fulton St. Extension in the town Saturday morning. The two had a contract to do the work with Frank Paul, who owns the property, and were moving the cars from an area off the road in the woods.
Lorey said Chauncy Sobkowicz was in the process of moving a tree using the tractor when the tree's weight caused the tractor to flip. The tractor's weight, Lorey said, killed him instantly. Because of that, he was not taken to the hospital, and was pronounced dead at the scene by Fulton County Coroner Margaret Luck.
The accident took place at 11:46 a.m.
Sobkowicz, a native of Fort Johnson, graduated from Broadalbin-Perth High School and took college courses in his final year there before moving on to the State University of New York at Cortland.
He graduated from Cortland earlier this year and had plans to become an elementary school teacher. His grandmother, Gaile Sobkowicz, said this morning her grandson was planning to begin student teaching at schools in Schenectady and Ballston Spa in two weeks, and had been working at the site so he could make money to pay the tuition he needed for the 16-week program.
His grandparents already had fronted him the money for the student teaching, but Chauncy had told them he wanted to pay them back, his grandparents said.
"The last couple of days of his life was about the happiest I ever saw the kid," Gaile Sobkowicz said. "He was very happy, and he was working for his grandfather."
She said Sobkowicz had a passion for fixing up old cars. He took pride, she said, in the 1988 Mustangs he collected, as well as in a 1958 boat he worked hard to fix up.
He was consistently receiving good grades and took a bookkeeping job throughout college in order to help pay his way.
"Chauncy was a very conscientious, hard worker," Donald Sobkowicz said.
Halgas Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements, which are incomplete at this point. Gaile Sobkowicz said the family is waiting for Chauncy's brother, Thomas, to return from Kuwait, where he is stationed as a member of the Air Force, before deciding when or where the funeral will be held.
Zach Subar covers rural Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org