Attica couple, daughter killed in Tippecanoe Co. crash

An Attica couple and one of their teenage daughters died in this crash.
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Three family members are dead after an accident between a mini van and a John Deer combine.

It happened Wednesday in southern Tippecanoe County at the intersection of Indiana 25 and a county road about 15 miles southwest of Lafayette.

Police say 36-year-old Carl McFarland was driving the combine and didn't stop at an intersection. McFarland collided with the mini van, which was headed northbound.

Six people were in the van. Three were killed, and the other three were rushed to the hospital. The driver of the combine was not hurt. Drugs or alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the crash at this time.

Killed in the crash were an Attica couple and their 15-year-old daughter.

Police say Daniel Fox, 62, his wife Stacy Fox, 40, and Demara Fox, 15, died. Daniel Fox was driving the mini van.

Two of the couple's children, 17-year-old and 13-year-old daughters, survived the crash and were taken to Riley Hospital for Children. An 18-year-old family friend, Margaret Carpenter, was taken to IU Hospital in Lafayette.

These types of collisions aren't too uncommon across the Midwest, but the severity of this crash had us taking a closer look at safety standards of farm vehicles. There are some exceptions to the rules.

Cameras were rolling as a farm tractor approaches an incline. The driver, Drew Waldridge, can't see what's coming on the other side, and he's trying to keep equipment in tow from whipping into the other lane.

"Usually try to slow down and get over. Try to pay attention to the cars that are coming towards me, pull over and get out of the way," he said.

Waldridge is mindful. It's just one day after a husband, wife and their 15-year-old daughter were run over by a combine and killed down the road.

"It's tragic for everybody. You know things happen, and we don't want them to happen. But it was an accident and I feel bad for everybody involved," he said.

Early indications blame Wednesday's accident on human error. The tractor driver ran a stop sign. National studies show as many as 16 people die each year in tractor related accidents. Lack of visibility, speed and inattention are often to blame.

Scott Miller farms in the same community.

"Started when I was ten years old. I learned how to drive a vehicle on a tractor," he said.

Unlicensed to drive a car on the road at ten years old, Miller could legally get behind the wheel of a tractor in the field, and later take it on the road to help his family's farming operation. That's because farm families transporting their own product and don't have to get formal training for the equipment or a commercial driver's license.

"I don't think a commercial driver's license would do anything for a farm vehicle," said Miller in defense of the more relaxed rules.

Traveling up to 25 miles per hour and spanning 16 feet across, no one denies these vehicles are a dangerous force on the road.

"We try as hard as we can to make room for everybody on the road. But other drivers need to be aware," Miller said.

The Farm Bureau has some safety recommendations:

Pay attention to the slow-moving vehicle emblem. It's not just a reflector but designed to alert you to start braking immediately.

Don't assume tractor drivers can see or hear you, and pass with caution.

Everyone, farmers included, are reminded to obey the basic rules of driving on the road.