By STAN MADDUX
PAW PAW Mich. — A 6-year-old boy died and a 3-year-old boy was critically injured in heavy equipment accidents on farms 60 miles apart on the same day.
The fatality occurred June 21 at a farm in southwestern Michigan. According to the Cass County Sheriff’s office, the boy and two other children were riding on a skid steer loader down a driveway at about 3 p.m.
The boy, identified as Holden High, 6, in a news report by WLKM of Three Rivers, fell from the bucket and was run over. He later died at a hospital in nearby Dowagiac. The children were helping with landscaping on the farm about 13 miles south of Paw Paw, said police.
According to the boy’s obituary, he had just finished kindergarten at Howardsville Christian School and wanted to be a farmer when he grew up, and among the things he enjoyed was taking care of the cows. His parents are Dave and Stacey High, the owners of High Quality Farms where corn, soybeans and cattle are raised.
In northwestern Indiana, Edward Burek-Phillips, 3, was hurt badly when run over by a tractor operated by his grandfather at the family’s farm near Kingsbury. The boy was flown to Comer’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago with head and internal injuries, according to LaPorte County Police.
Police said the family reported the next day that he was in critical but stable condition. That injury occurred at Burek Farms at 0381 E. 400 South. It’s believed the boy was riding his bicycle when he wound up in the path of the tractor operated by his grandfather, Ed Burek, who was backing up outside the residence to head out into the field when the rear tires made contact with the child, police said.
Edward, also known to his family as “Bubby,” often rides on the tractor with his grandfather and that could be why he was riding the bicycle toward the machine, police said. The boy was being kept under sedation to prevent him from becoming restless, but when asked, he did open his eyes briefly and wiggle his toes, police reported.
“The Burek family has been overwhelmed by this incident and are grateful for the swift emergency response, as well as the prayers of the community. “They are asking for privacy at this time,” said LaPorte County Police Capt. Mike Kellems.
Buddy Kasinger, a paramedic with the LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service, explained being sedated keeps the body relaxed to help with its natural response to recover from major trauma. He said a breathing machine in such cases is often used to assure that breathing and oxygen intake remain consistent.
“It takes the mind away from the body to the point where they can’t breathe too fast or breathe too shallow. We give them a higher concentration of oxygen and we control the breathing at that point,” said Kasinger.
“We always do the best we can for everybody, but when a child is involved it is tough (emotionally),” he added. “Everybody just steps up their game and pulls together and does everything that we can definitely for the patient at that point.”
The family has turned down requests to comment but in public posts on Facebook late last month, the boy’s mother, Rebecca Burek, wrote her son has 13 skull fractures and other injuries but is showing slow but gradual signs of improvement.
She said doctors anticipate a full recovery; no further information was available at press time.