'Cowboy at heart' dies after fall from horse at Fort Mill greenway

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comOctober 16, 2013 

Ted Johnson

— A Charlotte man who “was a cowboy at heart” died days after falling from a horse at the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill on Saturday.

Ted Johnson, 68, was taken by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he remained in critical condition until he died Monday night, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said.

An investigator with the N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office, which performed the autopsy, said Johnson died of blunt trauma to the head after falling from a horse. His death has officially been ruled an accident.

Johnson, the owner of TAJ Chemicals in Charlotte, “was also a cowboy at heart and truly enjoyed the peaceful pastures while riding his horses,” according to his obituary. He also had a 26-year career in sales in the textile industry.

On Saturday, Johnson and two friends were riding horses when the accident happened, said Denise Cubbedge, the greenway's director of development. Staff members were working at the time, but Johnson and his friends were on a "personal ride."

Equestrians “of all levels of experience” are able to bring their own horses for self-guided rides, according to the greenway’s website.

EMS was called to the scene at about 11 a.m. It's unclear what caused Johnson to fall from the Tennessee Walking Horse.

The greenway, which sits on a 2,100-acre nature preserve off U.S. 21, is a nonprofit park owned and managed by Leroy Springs & Co. It provides activities including boating, hiking, nature walks and horseback riding.

Johnson often rode his horses at the greenway, Cubbedge said.

"He was a friend" who boarded his horse at the greenway, she said. "He was very familiar with the greenway" and close with staff members who worked at the horse barn.

The greenway allows horse owners to keep their horses in a barn on the property.

Tim Patterson, president of Leroy Springs & Co., released this statement: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ted’s family and his many friends on the Greenway. Ted loved riding, and visited frequently with our staff, entertaining and charming them with stories and good humor. He will be greatly missed by all of us."

Johnson's celebration of life service will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Charlotte.

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