Man to face court after he 'accidentally' kills four-year-old son by turning on farm's feed mixer without realizing the boy was inside
41-year-old Alvin F. Beiler reportedly told responding officers that he 'lost track of his son' and presumed the boy 'had gone inside the house'
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A Salisbury Township man will be facing court on charges stemming from his four-year-old son's tragic death. The 41-year-old, identified as Alvin F. Beiler, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday, November 5, after he killed his son when he turned on his farm's feed mixer without realizing that the boy was inside.
According to Penn Live, local authorities were dispatched to Beiler's dairy farm in the 500 block of Cambridge Road at around 8:42 p.m. on May 30. When they reached the location at around 9:15 p.m., they found the four-year-old submerged in the feed inside the mixer. A deputy coroner declared the child dead at the scene.
Speaking to the police at the time, Beiler said that his son had been with him earlier in the evening and that he had allowed the boy to climb and play on a silo while he worked on getting the feed into the mixer so he could feed the farm's cattle.
The 41-year-old told police that the boy wanted to come down after a few minutes, so he told the child to wait while he turned off the conveyor belt. He said that before he knew it, the four-year-old had "disappeared" after climbing down the silo. Charging documents indicated that he told officers he thought, "I guess he went inside."
Without realizing that his son had climbed into the feed mixer, Beiler turned the machine on and began to load a wheelbarrow and feed the cattle. It would be 20 minutes before he realized that the boy was trapped inside. He said he then stopped the feeder and ran to a neighbor's house for help, before informing police of the incident.
In a statement addressing the incident, Lancaster County District Attorney's Office wrote, "Beiler told police he 'lost track of his son' and thought, 'Where did he get to?' but still turned on the mixer, never investigating where the boy was."
"It was determined that Beiler showed gross negligence and recklessness by starting the feed mixer not knowing the whereabouts of the boy, who he had seen minutes earlier playing by the mixer's hopper. Also, according to Beiler, the boy was known to play around that piece of equipment."
The father was subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child and was let free on a $100,000 unsecured bail. The charges were later waived to the court, indicated court documents cited by Penn Live.
"It is an unfortunate and tragic farming accident, and at this point, we want to respect the family's privacy during this difficult time,” Beiler’s attorney, Christopher A. Sarno, said in an email to Lancaster Online.
Beiler is scheduled for formal arraignment in Lancaster County Court this upcoming November 21 and is still a free man on the $100,000 bail.