April was a tragic month for the farm community in Western Ontario. Four people died in accidents either on the farm or in farm-related incidents.
Highway accident leaves 21-year old farmer dead
A tractor accident on April 9 at 3:50 p.m. killed 21-year-old Travis O’Brien, a farmer at Dogs Nest, just east of Port Dover, who had a gift for machines and farm management.
O’Brien was driving a tractor south on Highway 6, between Hamilton and Port Dover, when the tractor was struck from behind by a 55-year-old Haldimand County man, whom police did not identify. The tractor rolled into a ditch. O’Brien was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was not injured and was not charged. As of May 3, there was no word from Norfolk County OPP as to whether or not charges would be laid.
O’Brien’s aunt, Linda Soles of Port Dover, told Farmers Forum that O’Brien was a natural farm boy, and could often be found fixing tractors and machinery on the farm. He learned many of his skills from school co-op programs that saw him helping out at local shops and refining a passion for tinkering and fixing, she said.
Farm and the family were nearest and dearest to his heart, she said, adding that O’Brien found himself last year largely running the farm. His father is a transport truck driver, and helped out where he could, but it was the 21-year-old doing the farming, from planting to harvesting, Soles said. “His family, and the farm, were everything to him. Every morning, he got up, went out, and started working on the farm.”
O’Brien is survived by parents Cameron and Cindy, and his younger brother, Kyle.
Grain trucker found pinned by tractor-trailer at grain elevator
EXETER — An accident at Ondrejicka Elevators, in Huron Park south of Exeter, on the morning of April 10 killed 62-year-old truck driver William Inch.
Inch, of St. Marys, a driver for Paul Berendsen Farms Ltd., had just finished dropping off a load at the elevator, had cleared the weigh station, and had stopped to check the condition of his trailer before he left. “A short while later he was found lying pinned beneath one of the tractor-trailer tires,” an OPP report said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Huron OPP media relations officer Jamie Stanley told Farmers Forum that the police had completed their investigation and had not laid any charges. The Ministry of Labour had not completed its investigation as of May 3.
Two Mennonite children killed in separate accidents on the farm
WEST MONTROSE — Two Mennonite children, who were second cousins, died in two separate farm accidents two days apart last month. The funerals were held at the same church.
Four-year-old Earl Brubacher was running and playing with his older brother on the farm on April 11. He fell and struck his head on a piece of metal, according to an acquaintance, who called it a “freak accident.” The boy’s parents, Mark and Naomi Brubacher, farm at West Montrose in Woolwich Township, just north of Kitchener. He was one of nine siblings. His grandfather, Harvey Brubacher, 74, died two days later of natural causes. The family held a joint funeral for the four-year-old boy and his grandfather on April 17.
Two-year-old Owen Brubacher was killed just down the road on April 13 after he was accidentally struck by a skid steer driven by his father, said Jeff Ball, an Eastern Ontario farmer who knows many area Mennonite farm families. The child had gotten up from the sandbox he was playing in to follow his father into the barn. But the child walked around to the back of the barn, unbeknownst to his father, and was struck as the skid steer backed up, Ball said. The boy is survived by five siblings and parents Clayton and Connie Brubacher, who farm at West Montrose in Woolwich Township. His funeral was held on April 18.
The children were second cousins. Their fathers, Mark and Clayton, are first cousins and the families are neighbours on Regional Road 2 in West Montrose. Funerals for the two boys and the one boy’s grandfather were held at the Winterbourne Mennonite Meeting House.