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Illinois farmers pay tribute to late colleagues
Illinois farmers pay tribute to late colleagues

Ryan and Rory Miller lost their lives in a pipeline accident last week

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

An Illinois farming community came together to pay their respects to fallen colleagues.

More than 50 producers from Amboy, IL. parked nearly 20 tractors along the road outside Prairie Repose Cemetery on Saturday to say their final goodbyes to Ryan and Rory Miller.

Even some who only knew the Millers on a professional basis took time to pay their respects.

“Not everybody knew Ryan and Rory well, but they knew them as farmers (and) they knew them as good farmers,” Katie Pratt, a neighbor and farmer, told WQAD 8 on Saturday.

Rory, 59 and his son Ryan, 30, lost their lives after a tractor hit a natural gas line.

They used the tractor to free another tractor after it got stuck trying to install field tile.

The flames were visible for miles, said Nathan Hummel, a local producer.

“I saw the flames … it was way worse than I ever imagined … it just kept getting bigger everywhere I went,” he told WQAD 8.

The accident is also a sobering reminder of the importance of farm safety, Pratt added.

“We talk to our kids about safety all the time,” she said. “This has given us the opportunity to continue that conversation in a very somber way.”

Those who knew the Millers on a more personal level say Ryan followed in his father’s footsteps.

Both Ryan and Rory were accountants and farmers. But that’s only where the similarities began.

“They had the same truck, just different colours. They wore the same bib overalls at work and they had the same pens in their pocket,” Amanda Walters, a family friend, told WQAD 8 on Thursday.

“He was a lot like his dad,” added Ella Payne, another family friend. “He was a jokester … a spitting image … a little mini with a sense of humor who loved life.”

Another man, Michael Koster, was injured in the fire.

He suffered second- and third-degree burns to more than 60 per cent of his body. Koster remains in critical condition, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help cover his medical costs.

The campaign has raised more than US$16,000 in less than a week.

Top photo: Tractors line the road near Prairie Repose Cemetery on Saturday where farmers said their final goodbyes to Ryan and Rory Miller.
Photo: WQAD 8