Updated, 2 p.m. July 8
A longtime John Deere Classic volunteer died as the result of an accident at TPC Deere Run, tournament officials announced Friday in a statement.
Charles “Chuck” Austin, 68, of Rock Island, Illinois, died of injuries apparently suffered in an accident at the golf course while working to prepare the tournament site for next week’s event.
No further details were released by the tournament, but according to the Quad-City Times, Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson said that Austin was driving a four-wheel John Deere Gator when the accident occurred.
“It is our belief that he was under the impression that the vehicle was in reverse when in fact it was in forward or drive,” Gustafson told the newspaper. “When he hit the gas it lurched and went up under a parked refrigerated semitrailer.”
“Chuck was a 27-year volunteer so it was in his heart and he was part of the operations group that affectionately calls themselves ‘the grunt group,’” tournament director Clair Peterson told the newspaper. “So they do any task on any corner of the property to prepare for the tournament and then during tournament week.
“I know that he was immensely proud of the tournament,” Peterson said of Austin. “I remember sitting with him at a dinner because he had nominated the John Deere Classic for special recognition for its charity success. … He was always very proud of what the tournament did for charity, what it meant to the community, and that’s why he came back every year.”
According to the Quad City Times, Austin taught math for 31 years at Rock Island High School and was a former city alderman.