Tractor accidents claim the lives of 2 farmers this week


For farmers and ranchers, we understand the risk of the job, but that doesn’t make it any easier when tragic tractor accidents happen. Tim Sullivan, a Macomb, Illinois, man, died after a box truck struck his farm tractor on Wednesday afternoon. Two days earlier, a 64-year-old Grand Rapids man was killed when his tractor flipped over and crushed him.

Sullivan, 64, was headed north on U.S. 67 near Macomb on his John Deere 4430 tractor. He was in the right lane of the four-lane highway when a box truck driven by Gregory Jones, 28, of Nevada, Iowa, struck the tractor from behind, according to authorities.

Illinois State Police said the tractor sustained extensive damage and Sullivan was ejected as a result of the crash. He was transported to McDonough District Hospital by ambulance and then airlifted to OSF St. Francis in Peoria, Illinois, where he died of his injuries. 

Jones was driving a Kenworth box truck. Jones’ truck left the road and came to rest in the median, police said. He was unhurt. Jones was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, police said, and the investigation is ongoing.

In Michigan, the deadly incident involved a farmer identified as Gary Mills, who was operating an older Oliver tractor on a family member’s farm. Authorities told the Detroit Free Press that they believe Mills was attempting to expand a power take-off shaft on a mower and had chained it to a tree and to the tractor to try to pull it open.

Update: Adding to the week’s heartbreak, we have also learned of the farm-related death of a 2-year-old girl in Taylor County, Wisconsin, who was killed when she was hit by a skid loader driven by her 12-year-old brother.

All of these incidents came less than a month after a 75-year-old Virginia farmer was killed when a motorist collided with his tractor. And on May 16, a 72-year-old farmer died when he was trapped under two feet of corn in a grain silo in Barry County, Michigan.

When tragedy strikes the farm community, we rally behind one another. Our condolences go out to these farmers’ family and friends. We may never understand why things happen the way they do. For those drivers who get behind farm equipment and get aggravated, take your time — you are behind someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. 

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