Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Local farmer dies in accident while unloading equipment
By Margie Wuebker
A 22-year-old Marion Township man was killed Wednesday night when the forklift he was operating tipped onto its side pinning him to the ground.
Bradley J. Fleck, 3560 Harrison Road, Celina, was rushed by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, where he was pronounced dead shortly after the 6:43 p.m. accident.
Fleck was unloading a disabled skid loader from the back of a truck at the time, according to Mercer County Sheriff's Office reports. The load apparently shifted causing the forklift to tip striking the young man in the head. The accident occurred at 3395 Harrison Road - the homeplace of the family operation known as Fleck Farms Inc.
Relatives as well as hired hands were at the scene when the accident occurred with one of the witnesses placing a call to 911. They also worked feverishly to remove the toppled forklift.
Medical personnel requested an emergency helicopter, but neither CareFlight nor LifeFlight could respond due to storms in the area. The area was under a tornado warning at the time with intermittent thunderstorms.
Fleck, a 2005 graduate of Marion Local High School in Maria Stein, was engaged in full-time farming. He had purchased an 80-acre farm in December with plans to continue a family tradition dating back to his grandparents and great-grandparents. Future plans included marrying his fiancee Lauren Tuente of Osgood Sept. 11, 2010.
"He will be truly missed at home and on the farm," Paul Fleck said of his youngest son. "He was going to take over for me and now he's gone."
The young man, described by family members as "the most laid back, easy-going person," currently ran the hog and steer barns. Having grown up in the country and realizing the work involved in farming, he willingly accepted responsibility, they added.
Football held a special place in his life, having played center as #58 for the Marion Local Flyers on the 2003 state runner-up team. Family and friends also remember him as a diehard Cincinnati Bengals fan. His other interests included driving his 4-wheeler and snowmobile.
"He was a big kid who loved playing with his 14 nieces and nephews," sister Jill Burd said in a voice laced with emotion. "He was truly one of a kind."
Fleck also was the son of the late Shirley Fleck and the stepson of Carol Flaute Fleck. The entire family, which includes two brothers and three sisters, celebrated Dad's wedding on June 20. In addition to gaining a stepmother, the marriage yielded a bonus - two stepsisters and a stepbrother.
"We really want to thank all the responders for all they did," Burd added. "Now we have to face the future without him and that is such a tragedy."