Tractor flips, kills Colwich man

It's a common courtesy for farmers driving tractors on a highway to use the shoulder as much as possible so other traffic can pass easily.

But that proved fatal for Joseph Winter of rural Colwich on Sunday night.

Winter, 62, was riding east on the shoulder of 61st Street North in an open-topped John Deere front end loader when the tractor slipped on a patch of soft ground, veered into a culvert and overturned shortly after 6:30 p.m., authorities said.

He was pinned beneath the tractor and died at the scene not far from 215th Street West, said Capt. George Mason of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

Winter is the second farmer killed in a farming incident involving a tractor in the county this year — and the eighth in the state in 2010.

Randall C. Nevil, 63, of rural Goddard, was killed April 11 near Lake Afton when he was pinned to a tree by a tractor he was using to try to pull a large cedar from its roots, authorities said.

"Every time a farmer gets on a tractor, there's a certain element of risk that goes along," said Holly Higgins, safety director for the Kansas Farm Bureau.

Fatalities from tractor rollovers are becoming less common, Higgins said, because newer tractors have reinforced cabs or rollover protection bars.

But older tractors remain in use, she said, so the danger remains.

Winter lives near where he was killed, Mason said, and he was likely moving the tractor from one farm field to another.

It's not clear whether traffic prompted Winter to move farther to the right just prior to the crash.

"Unfortunately, he's the only one that had that information," Mason said.