An Iowa father ran over his 3-year-old with a lawn mower. Tate lived, but his story is not uncommonAugust 12, 2019
Ryan Manahl remembers the look of pain and terror in his son’s eyes as he stared up at his father from under the riding mower he was driving.
“It was horrific,” Manahl recalled.
It was early evening on Aug. 30, 2017, and Manahl was cutting the lawn at his family’s Cedar Falls home. His wife, Fonda, and their two boys, Cason, who was 7, and Tate, who was 3, left to run some errands, creating the perfect opportunity for Manahl to get some yard work done.
“Without my knowing, my wife and the boys had returned home and Tate comes running over to say hi to his dad,” he said. “At that moment, I was in reverse and looking over my right shoulder as I backed up and Tate came running up on my left side. I didn’t see him and I accidentally backed over him.”
Tate was trapped under the mower “from belly to toes,” he said.
An emergency call was made to 911 and neighbors ran to help. As they were moving the riding mower off Tate, it was clear the boy suffered severe, life-threatening injuries. His abdomen was sliced open, Manahl said, leaving his intestines exposed. Both his legs were almost completely severed.
The 3-year-old survived, but his story is hardly unique. So far this year alone, three people in Eastern Iowa have been seriously injured or killed in lawn mower mishaps.
Three accidents in Eastern Iowa
Most recently, a 17-year-old boy was killed July 22 near Cedar Rapids when a riding mower rolled over.
According to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Alexander W. Prochaska was mowing at a relative’s house in the 5600 block of E. Cemetery Road, between Cedar Rapids and Fairfax, when the mower overturned in a ditch, pinning him under it.
The other two incidents both happened in Fayette County.
Earlier in July, a 78-year-old Waucoma man was killed in a lawn mower rollover.
In June, a 3-year-old girl was seriously injured when a reversing lawn mower ran over her in Hawkeye.
“We don’t specifically track lawn mower accidents,” Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said in an email. “But I can tell you that we respond to them infrequently, probably no more than one or two a year. … Those that we have responded to have typically been rollover accidents because the operator drove them improperly on hillsides.”
A study published last year in the Journal of Public Health Reports found an estimated 51,151 people nationwide were injured between 2006 and 2013 while mowing the lawn. Of those, 12,243 — nearly a quarter — suffered an amputation.
And in 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 35,000 injuries related to riding lawn mowers were treated annually between 2012 and 2014. The commission also found an average of 90 deaths attributed to riding lawn mowers between 2008 and 2010.
Fatal mowing mishaps…