The Associated Press reports that a close friend of Powell's said he was "working with firewood with a helper who briefly stepped away. Powell was discovered a short time later on the ground."
Powell served as Carter's spokesman from 1977 - 1981. Powell served in a like role when Carter was the governor of Georgia.
Powell founded a public relations firm after leaving the White House and frequently appeared on news programs including a stint as an analyst for ABC News. Powell also lectured on public policy and press issues.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement this afternoon on Powell's passing.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jody Powell. As Press Secretary to President Carter, Jody served his country during a difficult time, and he always did the job with grace and good humor. When I needed advice at the start of my own tenure as Press Secretary, he was always generous with his time and wise in his counsel. I’ll miss his support and encouragement, and I’ll be keeping him and his family in my thoughts and prayers.”