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Mon, Jun 17, 2019 02:46
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Man who held Verso mill manager hostage in 2012 dies repairing manure spreader

SOMERSET COUNTY, Maine (From news reports) -- A Norridgewock farmer died Thursday when the manure spreader he was repairing fell on him while he was underneath it, according to the Somerset County Sheriff's Office.

Francis Smith III, age 56, was pronounced dead at the scene, Chief Deputy James Ross said Friday in a news release.

Smith was released in April 2016 from Mountain Correctional Center after serving a five-year sentence on kidnapping and other charges, according to a central Maine newspaper.

He pleaded guilty in late 2012 to charges in connection with his holding a Jay paper mill manager at gunpoint for nine hours earlier in the year. Smith was upset over being fired from the Verso Paper Mill after working there for 25 years, according to archives.

Smith was on probation at the time of his death.

Deputies responded to a report of a man pinned underneath a piece of farm equipment at a residence on the Ward Hill Road, Ross said.

When the accident happened has not been determined, he said. Family members who discovered the accident told deputies that they had not been able to get ahold of him since Monday.

"It appears that Smith was working to repair the equipment when the front tongue jack, which appears to have not been properly pinned in place, rotated and caused the spreader to fall on him." Ross said.

Members of the Norridgewock Fire Department were able to utilize an extrication device to lift the equipment, which Smith owned, off his body.

Smith's body was taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Augusta by a local funeral home for an autopsy.

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