Skip to comments.Arkansas - Health Department director Fay Boozman dies in accident on Rogers farm
Posted on 03/19/2005 9:01:19 PM PST by HAL9000
LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- Arkansas Health Department director Dr. Fay Boozman, appointed to the post in 1999 after an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, died Saturday in an apparent farm accident.
Boozman was 58 years old. He is survived by his wife, Vickie; their three children; his brother, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark.; and their mother, who lives in Fort Smith.
Officials said Fay Boozman was working by himself in his barn in Rogers when part of the barn gave way and crushed him at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Boozman family didn't want further details released.
"The family is still trying to get ahold of extended family and are really grieving, but they are together in Rogers," said John Boozman's spokesman, Patrick Creamer, in a telephone interview.
Gov. Mike Huckabee was also grieving over his close friend and cabinet member.
"Dr. Fay Boozman was not only one of my most trusted team members, but he was a close personal friend and Christian brother," Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a statement from his office. "One of my happiest days as governor was when he became director of the Department of Health. His death will mark the very saddest day."
Boozman ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1998, losing to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. He returned immediately to Republican Party politics and was appointed to lead the Health Department just three months after the election loss.
"This is a tragic loss for those of us at the Health Department and more so for Dr. Boozman's family and friends," said Bob Alvey, a department spokesman. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who knew him and knew how great a person he was."
As a state senator in 1996, Boozman suffered a collapsed lung, a bruised heart, broken ribs, kidney problems and a broken hip that left him using a walker after a car accident. He was a passenger in the car driven by Timothy Hutchinson, a son of then-Sen. Tim Hutchinson who is now a state representative.
Asa Hutchinson, a Republican candidate for governor in 2006 and Timothy's uncle, said Saturday night that Boozman, who is also an eye doctor, administered to the victims of the accident despite his serious injuries.
"I've never known a more tender-hearted human being," Hutchinson said in a telephone interview. "His life was an encouragement to everyone who came in contact with him every day, and losing him is just devastating."
Huckabee remembered fondly how Boozman first got involved in politics helping on Huckabee's first campaign and became a state senator from Rogers when Huckabee was lieutenant governor. Boozman had taken on an even more important role in the Huckabee administration in the last year as the governor pushed his Healthy Arkansas initiatives and earned national attention for his commitment to weight loss.
Boozman and Huckabee appeared together Thursday to introduce an incentive program for healthy restaurants.
"Many of us lose a dear personal friend, but our entire state loses one of our finest ever and most pure-hearted public servants who loved others more than self and was incapable of anything other than statesmanship and kindness," Huckabee said.
Rogers mayor Steve Womack, a friend of the family, told The Morning News that Boozman was moving from his Rogers residence to another home, also in Rogers.
Benton County Coroner Kimberly Scott said Boozman was working alone at the time of the accident, which is being investigated by the Rogers Police Department. Scott said the Boozman family did not want any more details released, but Rogers Police Sgt. Scott Clifton told The Morning News that Rogers and Lowell emergency personnel responded to a call concerning an industrial or agricultural accident at the address of Boozman's farm.
Police said a man was pronounced dead at the scene, and The Morning News reported that scanner traffic indicated emergency personnel responded to a call of a man crushed by a large gate.
During his race against Lincoln in 1998, Boozman came under fire when he said rape victims were not likely to get pregnant. When he was named health director in 1999, he apologized for the statement, saying it was "not statistically based."
Analysts said after the race that the comment didn't cost him the election against a popular former congresswoman.
© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Very sad. Prayers for the family.
Arkansas loses a fine man- none finer. My heart goes out to his family.
I think George W. Bush is much finer.
Supporting the President is one thing, but can't you be a little more gracious on the day of this man's tragic death? I've not met Pres. Bush, but I tell you from personal experience that the world is a poorer place indeed without Fay.
Why do only the good die young in Arkansas?
This is very sad news.
My dad works for the health department. His boss had called him about earlier today.