GREENFORD — Ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. is in “very critical condition” after an accident on his family farm, his wife, Tish Traficant, said today.
The former congressman, 73, is “sedated and he’s not doing well,” his wife told The Vindicator a few minutes before heading back to the St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, where he was taken after first being rushed to Salem Regional Hospital.
Traficant was driving a 1943 Ford tractor about 7:50 p.m. Tuesday at his family farm on West South Range Road about 140 feet into a large pole barn when the vehicle struck a large steel blade on the ground, said Goshen Police Chief Steve T. McDaniel.
That caused the tractor to flip with Traficant still in the vehicle’s seat, but trapped with the tractor on top of him, McDaniel said.
Andrew Thomson of Mercer, Pa., was looking at farm equipment with Traficant, when he saw Traficant go into the barn and was talking with the former congressman.
When Thomson didn’t get a response from Traficant, he checked the barn, saw Traficant under the tractor and called 911, McDaniel said.
It is believed that Traficant suffered a heart attack on the tractor, said Linda Kovachik, a longtime family friend and former aide when Traficant was in Congress.
“Jim Traficant would have jumped off the tractor” under normal circumstances, she said.
Traficant is in a medically-induced coma with numerous tests and scans being done, said Kovachik, who spent several hours today with members of his family at the hospital.
Doctors will determine if there is any brain activity about 72 hours after he was brought to St. Elizabeth, Kovachik said.
“If anyone can come out of this, it’s Jim Traficant,” she said.
After the accident, emergency responders were there in minutes, lifted the tractor and administered CPR to Traficant, McDaniel said. They also got Traficant out of the barn because gas was leaking from the tractor, he said.
Elizabeth H. Traficant, one of his daughters, is the owner of record of the 76-acre farm at 6908 W. South Range Road since Dec. 10, 1999.
Her father, the Mahoning Valley’s most famous and infamous politician of the last half-century, was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 4, 2001.
The farm was a key location in Traficant’s political corruption trial in 2002. Among his convictions was having contractors do work at the farm for political favors, and having congressional staff members work there while on federal time.
Traficant served more than 17 years in the U.S. House as a Democrat before being expelled in July 2002. That came after a federal jury convicted him of 10 felony counts including racketeering, bribery, tax evasion and obstruction of justice.
He unsuccessfully ran for re-election from prison in 2002, and in 2010, the year he was released, as an independent losing both times to Democrat Tim Ryan, a former Traficant aide.
Vindy.com will post further updates as they become available.