Crime & Courts

No charges to be filed in boy's death during hayrack ride

No criminal charges will be filed in the accidental death of a 12-year-old boy who fell off a tractor during a hayrack ride earlier this month, Reno County officials said Wednesday.

District Attorney Keith Schroeder said no law prohibits children from riding on farm equipment on rural roads. The accident occurred Sept. 5 on a rural dirt road.

Four children were riding in the tractor's bucket, another was sitting in the driver's lap, and three were riding in a hay trailer. The joystick operating the bucket was accidentally moved, and the children sitting inside the bucket were dropped in front of the tractor's wheels.

The three other children were injured in the accident.

"It is undeniable that the child accidentally died during the operation of the tractor," Schroeder said in a news release.

But the family of the deceased child had asked no charges be filed against the 24-year-old man who was operating the tractor, Schroeder said.

Kansas law prohibits children under age 14 from riding on parts of vehicles not meant for passengers on city roads and state highways.

"It is obvious the Legislature intended to exclude the operation of farm equipment outside a city's limits on a dirt road," Schroeder said in the statement.

Schroeder also acknowledged that children often ride on farm equipment in rural communities.

"However, the death of this child demonstrates why it is a bad practice or custom to allow anyone to ride in the front bucket of a moving tractor," Schroeder added. "The passenger can be seriously hurt if an unforeseen event or mechanical failure occurs."