Toddler among 2 dead in separate farming accidents

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Two people, one of them a toddler, were killed recently as a result of farming machinery accidents.

A 3-year-old died Saturday afternoon after being pulled into a tiller in Meenon, Wisconsin – about 4o miles east of Pine City, Minnesota – WEAU reports.

According to Northland's NewsCenter, the Burnett County Sheriff's Office says the young boy was riding with his 55-year-old father in a tractor, which was pulling a tiller.

WQOW reports the sheriff's office says the man stopped and got off the tractor to clear an obstruction; his son got off at the same time and was "pulled into the tiller" when he approached it.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

In west-central Minnesota, the Renville County Sheriff's Office says one person died after being run over by a combine Monday.

According to the news release, the sheriff's office received the call about 3:15 p.m. from a farm outside of Maynard, Minnesota, about 30 miles southwest of Willmar.

According to a preliminary investigation, the victim was approaching the rear side of the combine, and the driver was unaware of his presence. The victim was then run over by the rear wheels and suffered fatal injuries; the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The names of the victims in both cases have not been released, and both incidents are being investigated.

The deaths come one week after a farmer in Carver County was “accidentally buried alive” in a ditch on his farm.

Dennis Lenzen, 78, of Dahlgren Township, was installing drainage tile in a ditch in his farm field when an employee pushed dirt into the ditch to hold the drainage tile in place and accidentally buried Lenzen, according to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.

The employee called 911 for help and then dug with his hands in an attempt to rescue Lenzen. Emergency responders arrived and located Lenzen, who was pronounced dead at the scene, WCCO reported.

Farm safety

Farming is one of the most hazardous occupations in the country, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, in part due to the heavy machinery that farmers use in their daily operations. According to the agency:

  • The fatality rate for agricultural workers was seven times higher than the fatality rate for all workers in private industry in 2011; agricultural workers had a fatality rate of 24.9 deaths per 100,000, while the fatality rate for all workers was 3.5.
  • The leading cause of death for farmworkers between 1992 and 2009 was tractor overturns, accounting for more than 90 deaths each year.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that 123 agriculture workers were killed in farm accidents nationwide in 2013. That’s a 19 percent decrease from the year before.

In Minnesota, 11 agriculture workers were killed in 2013 – six of them in a transportation accident of some kind, and five involving “contact with objects or equipment.”

Officials are urging Minnesota farmers to be cautious during this year’s corn harvest, noting the record corn crop may make farmers more vulnerable to becoming trapped in grain bins.

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