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Young 4-H Member Fights through Tragedy to Finish 4-H Year

Young 4-H Member Fights through Tragedy to Finish 4-H Year
Unspeakable farm accident doesn't stop this 4-Her and his family.

When Dillon Sutherlin, Putnam County, pulled his lamb into line in his first class at the Putnam County fair, he wore a ribbon with the letters "RS" on his shirt. There were many other ribbons in the crowd. Even being in the ring was a victory of sorts, given the tragedy the family went through earlier in the summer.

In late June, Dillon's older brother, Riley, was killed in a tragic farm accident. He was driving a vehicle on the farm when it tipped over and killed him.

Gutsy showman: Dillon Sutherlin continued showing sheep this summer despite the tragic loss of his brother in June.

The Putnam County Fair wasn't the first time Dillon had been in the show ring since his brother's death. To the amazement of many, he and his family showed up bright and early at the Marion County Fairgrounds for the Indiana State Southdown Junior Show and Marion County Open Sheep Show on June 28, the day after burying Riley.

Related: Farm Safety Should Be On Your Mind At All Times

Fellow exhibitors and their parents helped him get his sheep ready for the show ring. Several family members also came to offer support to the family. Dillon showed several animals during the day, garnering various colors of ribbons throughout the process. It was obvious this day wasn't all about the color of ribbons.

After the Southdown show, Dillon was awarded with the first ever "Mental Attitude Award" by the Indiana Southdown Association for "persevering in the face of adversity." Dillon attends South Putnam Schools.

Riley, 17, was an active 4-H member and also active in FFA. He was the current President for South Putnam FFA Chapter. The school is located between Cloverdale and Greencastle.

Related: A Screwdriver Just Isn't the Same as a Hitch Pin

Bill Field, Purdue University Extension farm safety specialist, says that accidents involving tractors are still the number one cause of farm fatalities in Indiana, far outpacing grain bin suffocations. Of all farm tractor accidents, more deaths in any one year typically are blamed on tractor rollovers than any other single cause.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Dillon's older brother as Ryan. Indiana Prairie Farmer regrets the error.

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