Airport Manager Killed When Homemade Drag Struck Him While Smoothing a Runway

Michigan Case Report: 13MI102

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In fall 2013, a private airport manager in his 80s died when the homemade drag he was using “flipped up and struck him in the head. The decedent was operating a narrow front Allis-Chalmers D17 tractor. Attached to the rear of the tractor was a drag used to level the soil. The decedent constructed the drag using two 4-inch by 6-inch by 14-foot treated wood posts attached to four 8-foot channel-style steel beams and one shorter middle channel-style steel beam. The drag was attached to the lift arms of the tractor’s three-point hitch. At the second steel beam, the decedent had attached a screw-in bolt in the wood, attached the chain to the bolt, and the chain to each lift arm. At some point during the leveling of the soil, the drag caught on something on the ground and “flipped” up, coming to rest upright against the back of the tractor. One of the drag’s steel beams struck the decedent’s head. Police indicate it appeared the tractor stopped immediately. When the decedent was found, the tractor was still running. Emergency response was called and he was declared dead at the scene.

Airport Manager Killed When Homemade Drag Struck Him While Smoothing a Runwaypdf icon [PDF 192 KB]

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015