By JO ANN HUSTIS
LELAND, Ill. — Investigators are continuing their probe into a tractor accident that caused the death of an 81-year-old local farmer on Sept. 25.
La Salle County Chief Deputy Coroner Ed Taylor pronounced Mervin Baker, 81, of the village of Leland, dead at the scene shortly after 2 p.m. Sept. 25. Leland is about 15 miles northeast of Ottawa at Illinois Highway 34.
La Salle County Coroner Jody Bernard said on Sept. 26 that first responders, including the Leland Fire Department, La Salle County Sheriff’s Department and a medical helicopter crew from Rockford Memorial Hospital, were called to assist at the scene shortly before 2 p.m.
Upon arrival, they found Baker trapped under the front tire of a farm tractor in a hayfield on East 21st Road in Adams Township.
The preliminary investigation indicates Baker was attempting to jump-start the tractor when the incident occurred, Bernard said.
She said Baker had apparently been pulling a piece of farm equipment across the field with the tractor.
Born Aug. 12, 1931, in Waterman, Ill., Baker was a lifelong farmer and Leland High School graduate, member of the Leland Masonic Lodge and United Methodist Church, longtime director of the Illinois Valley Horseman Assoc., trustee with the Leland Cemetery Assoc., an Army veteran and an avid horseman.
Survivors include his wife, Vera, and three sons.
The funeral was Saturday at his church, and burial followed at Leland Cemetery.
Because details of the incident were still under investigation by the coroner’s office and sheriff’s deputies, Bernard had no further information available at press time.