The Beach Park man who died in a three-vehicle crash Friday morning in rural northern Lake County was driving the yellow Jeep Wrangler he bought and customized for his wife as a Christmas present, his family said.
Philip Smith, 62, died at the scene of the crash in which his Jeep collided with a school bus and a tan Jeep Cherokee.
In a statement released late Friday, his family said Smith was an entrepreneur and owner of several businesses, primarily in construction.
He was planning to attend the Jeep Jamboree in August in Aspen, Colo., where was going to display another Jeep he had customized, according to the statement.
Smith, known by family and friends as "Grump" because of his "taciturn nature," built two planes and a glider at his home, and he was in the process of constructing another plane, his family said.
He built several homes in Zion and his own home in Beach Park. He was also a regular at the hardware store.
"He could build nearly anything," the statement read.
He is survived by his wife of 19 years, two daughters and a granddaughter.