Silver Run farmer dies when his tractor overturns

June 22, 1994|By Amy L. Miller and Joe Mathews | Amy L. Miller and Joe Mathews,Sun Staff Writers

Martin Granville Beachtel died Monday afternoon doing what he loved -- farming the land he'd worked all his life.

Mr. Beachtel, 70, died in a tractor accident while he and several neighbors were baling hay on his Humbert Schoolhouse Road property in Silver Run.

"He loved his farming," said Sandra Jones, Mr. Beachtel's youngest daughter. "He was having health problems because of his age. [But,] he wouldn't give it up."

The Carroll County native had taken his 4230 John Deere tractor down a steep hill to retrieve a large round bale that had rolled into the woods, said Ms. Jones, who lives in South Mountain, Pa.

As he picked up the bale with a front-end loader, the tractor rolled, eventually coming to rest against a tree at the bottom of the hill, police reports said. Mr. Beachtel was crushed by the steering wheel, they said.

"We're not certain whether he hit a groundhog hole or what when the tractor rolled," Ms. Jones said.

Relatives and fellow farmers described Mr. Beachtel as a quiet, peaceful man who always worked hard. This year, Mr. Beachtel and his wife of 47 years, the former Agnes Koontz, were farming 800 acres of grain in Carroll and Adams County, Pa., Ms. Jones said.

"He loved to farm," said Lawrence E. Meeks, a Silver Run soybean farmer. "He was a fine farmer and a fine person."

"He was an extremely hard-working man," said David Greene, county extension agent, noting that Mr. Beachtel had attended many agency classes. "He was a strong extension supporter and user.

"We don't have many farmers. We can't afford to lose any of them."

Mr. Beachtel, who for two winters rode with county roads crews while they plowed snow, was also known for his sense of joy, they said.

"He was well-liked by everyone," Ms. Jones said. "He smiled a lot."

Neighboring farmers said yesterday they were unsure whether Mr. Beachtel had a roll bar -- a device that helps protect the operator if a tractor turns over -- installed on the tractor. The 100-horsepower tractor, manufactured from 1973 to 1977, had a roll bar as an optional accessory.

Yet even with the bar, Mr. Beachtel could have been injured if he wasn't wearing a seat belt, they said.

"If he was not strapped into the seats, he could [fall out] someplace and get hurt," Mr. Meeks said.

"Farmers are becoming much more aware of farm accidents, and this only adds weight to that. Most farmers have had narrow escapes."

However, the pressures of trying to get crops planted or harvested within the constraints of time and weather sometimes push safety out of a farmer's mind, he said.

"A lot tend to become complacent," Mr. Meeks said. "He was a man of many years experience, but things happen quick. That's part of the problem."

In addition to his wife and daughter Sandra, Mr. Beachtel is survived by two daughters, Wanda Hartlaub of Littlestown, Pa., and Karen Bolich of Honey Brook, Pa.

Mr. Beachtel, the son of the late Clarence and Mary Dutterer Beachtel, had seven grandchildren. He also had two brothers, William and Eugene Beachtel, both of Littlestown; and six sisters, Margaret Rebert, Shirley Dutterer and Janet Pottorff, all of Littlestown; Elaine Good and Rosie Hyser of Hanover, Pa., and Rita Crouse of Fairfax, Va.

A memorial service will be 7 p.m. Saturday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses at 1270 Herr's Ridge Road, Gettysburg, Pa.

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