Family tells their story to prevent future farm tragedies

Tractors are the No. 1 cause of fatal injuries to children on farms, and yet it’s been a tradition for young children to ride as passengers.

The Boomsma Family of Yankton, South Dakota, lost their 7-year-old Jaxon in a tractor-related incident at a relative’s farm in April 2017. Jaxon was an extra rider. The Boomsmas decided to tell their story in order to prevent other families from going through similar tragedy.

“I know how hard it is to say no to a child, especially when it’s something they love to do like ride a tractor, but we all have to say ‘no,’” said Troy Boomsma, Jaxon’s father and a territory manager with Pioneer Seeds/Corteva AgriScience.

Tractor rides have an intrinsic appeal for children, said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., director, National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. “But the well-intended activity of a child riding on the tractor with a parent or grandparent is extremely dangerous.”

The Boomsmas are not alone. Just since Jaxon’s death, there have been many other fatalities involving children and tractors. Here are a few:

  • May 2017: A 9-year-old boy in Inman, Kansas, died after falling off a tractor that was pulling a mower. The boy was sitting on the lap of his father.

  • September 2017: A 3-year-old boy in Newburg, North Dakota, died after he fell out of the cab of a tractor driven by his father.

  • May 2018: A 3-year-old girl in Goshen, Indiana, died from injuries she sustained in a tractor runover.

  • June 2018: A 12-year-old girl in Pocahontas County, Iowa, died in a tractor rollover along with the adult operator of the tractor. They were pinned under the machine.

  • May 2019: A 3-year-old boy in Melbourne, Arkansas, died in a tractor runover.

  • November 2019: A 4-year-old girl in Fruithurst, Arkansas, died after she was run over by a tractor.

  • July 2020: An 11-year-old boy died and his father was injured in a tractor rollover in Center Point, Texas.

  • June 2021: A 10-year-old boy in Perrinton, Michigan, died after falling from a farm tractor. The boy was riding on the tractor’s fender when the tractor hit a bump. A family member was driving.

  • Nov. 2021: A 2-year-old boy died after he fell from a tractor on a farm in Manitoba’s Pembina Valley.

  • April 2022: A 4-year-old girl in Connecticut died after getting trapped in the rotating blades of a farm machine attached to her father’s tractor.

A searchable database containing these and other publicly-available agricultural injury reports, involving both children and adults, can be found at

“Jaxon was always smiling and lived every day to the fullest, so we try to live that way in honor of him,” said Troy Boomsma. “Our faith and family has helped guide us through this difficult journey, and our hope is that by sharing our story we can help others.”

To read Jaxon’s story, and to learn more about safety resources and the Boomsma Family’s “Keep His Smile Alive” campaign, go to

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