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Beach Park man killed in crash ‘could build almost anything’

Rescue personnel work extricate driver Jeep Wrangler thwas involved crash with school bus Jeep suv Rte 173 Kilbourne Road Wadsworth.

Rescue personnel work to extricate the driver in a Jeep Wrangler that was involved in a crash with a school bus and a Jeep suv on Rte 173 and Kilbourne Road in Wadsworth. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 9, 2013 6:28AM

Philip Smith will be remembered as a man who could build almost anything.

Family members reflected fondly Saturday on the Beach Park resident, who died at age 62 on Friday morning when his vehicle collided with a school bus at the intersection of Route 173 and Kilbourne Road — west of Zion — in unincorporated Newport Township. Smith died at the scene after his yellow Jeep Wrangler was struck by a school bus bound for Newport Elementary School in Wadsworth.

There were no fatalities among the children on the bus.

On Saturday, members of Smith’s family released the following statement about a man they proudly called “an entrepreneur.”

“An entrepreneur, Philip Smith, 62, of Beach Park, had owned several businesses, primarily in construction, and he could build nearly anything.

Smith built two planes and a glider at his home, and he was building another plane. He confidently flew his two-seater planes. He took his brother-in-law for his first and only plane ride in one of his small home-built aircraft. Smith was hands-on and outdoorsy, and he always had a new interest or project. He was a regular at the hardware store, his family said, then added, “all of them.” Smith, who grew up in Beach Park and Winthrop Harbor, built several homes in Zion and his own home in Beach Park. He had many varied interests and liked to read all kinds of magazines.

“Smith was married for 19 years to Lisa (Davis) Smith, formerly of Antioch, and the father of two daughters, Tracy Paulsen and Cassidy Smith, and the grandfather of Stephanie Smith. He enjoyed spending time with his girls doing active things.

“Smith planned to attend the Jeep Jamboree in Aspen, Colorado, in August. He was driving a distinctive yellow Jeep he bought and customized for his wife as a Christmas present, but he had built his own custom Jeep for the Jamboree.

The Sheriff’s Office said Friday it was working with the Major Crash Assistance Team to evaluate the accident. No further details were made available on Sunday.

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