Farm accident claims teen’s life

By Ron Burtz

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A Custer County youth was the victim of a tractor rollover on the family ranch east of Fairburn on New Year’s Eve. 

Custer County Deputy Sheriff Jeff McGraw says 15 year-old Traven Bies was using a large John Deere tractor with a front-end loader and a bale mover on the back to feed cattle on a pasture trail at midday on Monday, Dec. 31. McGraw says Bies was hauling four large round bales on a trail along a ridge when the tractor apparently drifted off the right side of the trail causing it  to roll approximately two-and-a-half times down a steep embankment. 

McGraw says the tractor came to rest about 75 feet from where it left the roadway. He says the accident occurred about 2-and-a-half miles from the main road and about 7 miles east and north of Fairburn.

Pennington County Search and Rescue responded to the incident and used air bags to recover Bies’ body from the wreckage. Other responding agencies included Rapid City Ambulance, Fairburn Volunteer Fire Department, Custer County Sheriff’s Office and South Dakota Highway Patrol.  

McGraw says the emergency service workers had to work in frigid temperatures. He says the temperature was about 10-degrees with a 15-20 mph wind. 

Bies was a sophomore at Stevens High School in Rapid City and is the son of former Custer County Commissioner Travis Bies. 

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