Champion police chief calls boy’s mower death ‘a tough one’

Staff report


Funeral services were Thursday in North Bloomfield for Elijah S. Byler, 3, who died Monday night at his home at 4140 Anderson Anthony Road after falling from the platform on a commercial-grade mower his father was operating and being run over by it.

Township Police Chief Jeff White called it a “terrible accident,” adding he “can’t shake it” from his mind three days later.

White said there is still an open investigation into the accident because the department wants to better understand how it happened. White said the boy’s father was holding the boy in his arm at some point, but it’s still unclear what the boy’s position was just before he fell off.

Such mowers are frequently used by landscaping companies and involve the operator standing on a platform behind the cutting deck. This one was especially large, with a 90-inch deck.

White said it’s important police reach some conclusions about this accident so other people will understand the danger of using one with a child aboard.

“It’s a tough one,” White said. “Twenty-eight years on the job and I’ve never had to deal with something like this.”

The boy’s father, 26, called 911 at 8:49 p.m., saying the boy was not breathing and that he believed he was dead.

Officials called for a medical helicopter to come to the scene to transport the boy to the hospital, but that was later canceled. The Ohio State Highway Patrol assisted by making a diagram of the accident scene.

The boy’s obituary says he turned 3 last Saturday and was a member of the Old Order Amish Church. He is survived by his parents and a brother.

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