Error operating tractors: No ROPS and seat belt
Eden man killed in tractor accident | Fond du Lac Reporter | fdlreporter.com
Eden man killed in tractor accident
11:00 PM, May. 7, 2012
Written by Russell Plummer, The Reporter
TOWN of EDEN — A tractor that rolled over and crushed a 69-year-old Fond du Lac County man Sunday did not have safety equipment found on newer farm machinery.
George Weiss's manure spreader broke down sometime before 7 p.m. Sunday in a field on his farm at W3404 Sunny Road. Weiss was pulling the spreader back to the farm with a tractor when the tractor traveled into the north ditch, rolling over and pinning him underneath, according to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office report.
The load was uneven, putting far less weight on the back tires of the tractor, said Sheriff's Office Lt. Cameron McGee.
Weiss's tractor did not have "rollover protective structure" (ROPS), said McGee. ROPS is required on newer machinery.
Tractor accidents are the leading cause of farm fatalities, said Mike Rankin, crops and soils agent with UW-Extension in Fond du Lac County.
"Of the tractor accidents that occur, rollovers are the most common," Rankin said.
He said a farmer who is wearing a seat belt and driving a tractor equipped with ROPS has a far better chance of surviving an accident.
"That will keep you in a confined area that, in most cases, won't lead to you being crushed," Rankin said. "It might not be fool-proof, but it (seat belt use and ROPS) certainly helps."
Farmers can purchase ROPS made specifically for older tractor models, he added.
McGee said the accident may have been avoided if the manure spreader had not broken down, allowing for the load to be applied on the field.
"With the significant shift in the weight of the load, it caused a loss of control of the tractor going down a hill," McGee said.
The wet conditions did not contribute to the accident. However, the grade of the hill along Sunny Road was too much for the unbalanced tractor, said McGee.
Weiss's family was aware he had died before detectives arrived, said McGee.
The 69-year-old showed no signs of life when rescue personnel arrived at the accident, he added.
"It is really difficult, especially for the Eden volunteer fire department," McGee said of Weiss's death. "They live there and know these people. It is just a tough situation. It's hard to go to those scenes knowing the guy involved is just trying to make a livelihood."
Eden Fire Department and First Responders and Campbellsport Ambulance responded to the scene.