A well-known father and local civic leader died earlier this week in a freak weightlifting accident in Jasper, Tennessee.
Spencer Lee Wayne, 33, was killed Monday around 4 p.m. CDT while working out alone in the garage of his home, Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said Wednesday.
A barbell Wayne was attempting to lift while lying on a weight bench apparently fell across his neck, pinning him down, Burnett said. Wayne's wife had gone to the store and returned to find him.
There was "a lot" of weight on the bar, he said.
Marion County deputies and Jasper police responded to the Wayne home where officers from both departments worked together to lift the barbell off Wayne, but too late, the sheriff said.
"Spencer was such a nice guy. I've known Spencer for at least the last 10 years," Burnett said. "He only lived about a half a block away from me."
Burnett said the community is reeling from the tragedy. Wayne was a manager at Western Sizzlin' in Jasper, a former chamber president and was well-known to many in the county.
"My officers knew him because a lot of them work out," Burnett said. "A lot of people are really upset over here."
On the Facebook page for Jasper's Western Sizzlin', a photo shows the sign out front expressing the restaurant staff's emotional loss.
"In loving memory of our beloved friend Spencer," the sign reads.
The restaurant will remain closed until Friday.
A post on the restaurant's Facebook page regarding his death reads, "Words are just not enough to express the depth of the loss of such a good man. Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with his entire family. He was loved by so many people, including his Western Sizzlin family. He will be missed beyond measure. God rest his soul."
The Marion County Chamber of Commerce also expressed grief in the loss.
"Our hearts are broken in the passing of our colleague and friend, Spencer Wayne," the post reads. "Spencer was so active in the community and was a past president of the chamber."
The chamber's meeting set for Thursday has been canceled.
Condolences and recollections of Wayne's past good deeds and giving nature and his positive impact on individuals and the community peppered social media in the wake of the man's death this week.
"I still have no words that can express my sympathy towards Spencer his family, and close friends!" former classmate Brooke Davis-Reed posted. "So I'd like to celebrate the life we shared with him in high school. He was shy at times yet outgoing, sweet, goofy, and could [put] a smile on your face when you we having a bad day!"
Another recalled very recent memories.
"When I saw you last week, we had such a great, fun conversation like we always do and as I got ready to leave, you gave me a hug (just like you always did) and told me to stay out of trouble. We really had a good laugh about that," Vickie Messer posted on Monday in remarks made to the deceased man. "I can't begin to even know what to say to [Wayne's wife and children] or any of the rest of the family. I don't know what to say to your kids except how wonderful you were and hope they will someday know what a great influence you were on a lot of lives, helped a lot of [people] young and old, how you loved God, the flag, your country."
Wayne, a 2004 graduate of Marion County High School and 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, had worked at the Jasper restaurant for 16 years and eventually became part owner, according to his obituary on Rogers Funeral Home's website. An avid fan of his collegiate alma mater, he leaves behind a wife, a son and daughter and scores of other family in Marion County and elsewhere.
Visitation is set from 2-8 p.m. CDT Wednesday followed by a Masonic service at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The funeral will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in South Pittsburg.
Correction: This story was corrected to show that Spencer Wayne was a Marion County High School graduate and a UTC graduate.