A 55-year-old male farmer was unloading irrigation pipe with his father (the witness) and another helper. The witness and helper were unloading 30' sections of 4" irrigation pipe from a flat bed wagon at a tobacco field. The procedure was to unload and connect the pipe in the field, then pump water from a creek approximately 300' away. As the operation began, the victim parked the tractor and wagon along the edge of the tobacco field and remained seated on the tractor. He would slowly pull forward as the witness and the helper unloaded the pipe. About 15 minutes into the procedure, the victim turned the tractor engine off, dismounted the tractor and walked back to help unload the pipe. After unloading 2 lengths of pipe, the victim noticed the wagon and tractor moving forward. He ran along the left side of the tractor as it rolled down a slight grade. The witness yelled to the victim to let it roll. The victim jumped onto the moving tractor but could not stop it before it rolled into a thicket of trees. The victim fell from the tractor and was found under the wagon in the thicket of trees. The witness ran to the victim who was bleeding but breathing. He then instructed the helper to go to a nearby farm house and call 911. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel arrived at 8:45 am. The victim was taken to the local hospital, then transferred by helicopter to a University hospital where he died shortly thereafter. The KY FACE investigator concluded that to prevent similar occurrences, owners/operators should:

  • Engage parking brake when stopped and leave the unit in gear
  • Not try to stop runaway vehicles

Document Type


Release Date


Incident Number

94KY078; 94KY07801