Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 5-year-old boy and his grandfather are dead after a tractor ride in Clearwater, Minn. turned tragic, according to the authorities.
Wright County officials received a call around 5:45 p.m. Friday that a tractor that had flipped over in a ditch near the intersection of County Road 104 and Huber Avenue Northwest in Clearwater.
Officials arrived on scene and found the man and his grandson, both of Monticello, Minn., pinned under the tractor. Rescue and ambulance personnel worked to free the victims but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
That victim has been identified by family as 50-year-old Ron Gustafson. His grandson, identified as Rollie Gustafson, was transported by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where he died a few hours later.
“He was a very active little boy, loved to be around his grandpa,” said Ron’s son, Roger.
Roger Gustafson said his dad was helping him put up a fence on Friday at his home.
“I was putting up fencing and he came over to help. And he brought the little guys over,” Roger said. “We just had to move some machinery because I mowed and I had him take Rollie for a ride and that was the last I seen him.”
Roger said one of his dad’s hobbies was to work on tractors and that he was very familiar with driving them. Somehow, however, the tractor overturned in a small ditch near the property.
A neighbor saw the tractor flip and ran to tell Roger.
“Trying to go up the ditch and the ditch was just too steep,” he said. “It just, it came back.”
Roger said Rollie was supposed to start kindergarten in the fall. He was living with his grandparents. Ron was a longtime employee of Caterpillar Paving Products in Brooklyn Park. He recently welcomed his fifth grandchild into the world — Roger and his wife Tesha’s 2-month-old daughter Lexi.
“A very caring father, grandfather. Husband to my mom, and Rollie was a good kid,” he said. “They’re going to be very missed.”
The Gustafson’s are coping with the pain and filling their hearts with the joy their daughter brings.
“Her smile definitely helps get through it,” he said.
Roger said a funeral for both Ron and Rollie has been planned for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Daniel Funeral Home in Clearwater.
“Them two were hand-in-hand,” he said, “always with each other.”