some text Gregory Dale Mitchell
some text Hays State Prison is located in Trion, Ga.

A longtime corrections officer was killed Tuesday in an accident at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga.

The Georgia Department of Corrections is investigating the death of Gregory Dale Mitchell, a 25-year employee. Officials said his death was an accident but wouldn't give any details about how he died.

A retired Hays officer with knowledge of the situation said Mitchell was killed when he was knocked out of a mechanical cart by a ladder.

"It appears it was just one of those freak accidents," the officer said.

Mitchell, a maintenance man, was a well-liked Summerville resident. He was a passionate Civil War buff who headed the Chattooga County chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for several years, said Stan Hammond, the chapter's current commander.

During his time as commander, Hammond said Mitchell was influential in getting a monument erected to honor Confederate and Union soldiers who died in the Battle of Trion Factory on Sept. 15, 1863.

Mitchell also helped raise money for a monument to honor local Confederate soldiers that was placed last year on the Chattooga County Courthouse lawn. The monument sparked local criticism earlier this month after local officials asked the Sons of Confederate Veterans to remove the Confederate flag from its flagpole by the memorial.

In June, Mitchell celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary to his wife, Angela Taylor Mitchell. She couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Facebook, Gregory Mitchell described his feelings for his wife.

"We have shared happiness and heartbreak. Prosperity and pauperism. Joy and sorrow. There's no one I'd rather spend this day and every day with," he wrote.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at at 423-757-6659.