Phelps, N.Y. --- Exactly how Owen Conner, 77, died is still unknown.
What is known is that the man who called Sodus home was traveling back there after spending some time in South Carolina. Friends of his tell 13WHAM News that it was customary for Conner to escape to the south for the winter months and that he was returning home to check on a property he had.
Some of Conner’s friends showed up at the intersection between County Road 6 and Route 96 in Phelps on Monday to see where he died. A neighbor in that area called 911 around 8 a.m. on Friday to report that a vehicle was on its side, down a steep forty foot embankment, completely hidden from anyone who drove or walked by.
"He was seat-belted and was still in the driver's portion of the vehicle which was lying on the driver's side," Lt. Brad Falkey of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office said.
One friend recalls speaking to Conner over the phone around ten o’clock on the night of January 29th. Conner called a number of friends that night from a phone near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Authorities said he explained his desire to drive through the night in the hopes of arriving in Sodus around three in the morning. The friend he spoke with said she recalls him complaining of soreness in his left arm; she wonders if he had a heart attack.
It’s possible Conner went over that embankment in Phelps hours after those phone calls.
Conner was reported missing on January 31st but that was to authorities in South Carolina. While friends grieve his passing there are a number of simple safety tips that authorities can pass along that relate to Conner’s death.