A well-known man in the farming community was found dead, trapped in farming machinery in his oat field Tuesday evening.
Mark McCulley was found stuck in the auger head of a combine (a farm machine that both cuts and threshes grain and other crops) on his farm on County Road 92 in Independence, West Hennepin Public Safety said in a news release.
“Mr. McCulley is a well known and respected farmer of Independence,” Hennepin Public Safety Director Gary Kroells said in the release. “His death is a tragedy not only to his family and friends, but to our farming community in Independence and beyond.”
The McCulley family is widely known in the turkey industry, according to Minnesota Turkey. The organization extended its thoughts and prayers to the family.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office will release an official cause of death. Foul play is not suspected.
“This is a cruel reminder for all of us as we enter into harvest season this fall,” Kroells added. “Life is fragile and power equipment is dangerous.”
The agriculture, fishing and forestry industry (occupations that farm and harvest crops, animals, fish or timber) typically has the highest number of worker deaths across all industries, averaging roughly 480 worker deaths per year, the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America notes.
Tractor rollovers are the most fatal of all farm accidents in the United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration says, with incidents involving tractors and other farm machinery accounting for about half of all farm-related fatalities.
Fatalities in the agriculture, fishing and forestry industry dropped 13 percent to 225 fatalities nationwide in 2013, with 123 agricultural worker deaths in 2013 (down from 152 the year before), the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
In Minnesota, there were 15 fatalities in the agriculture-fishing-forestry sector in 2013, down from 21 in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted.