100 Meadows Road, Lower Mifflin Township
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Two brothers were killed Monday night in a farming accident in Lower Mifflin Township.

Douglas Eldwin Strite, 19, of Mercersburg, and his 14-year-old brother were changing the tire on a manure spreader when the tire exploded at 8:38 p.m. Monday, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Cumberland County Coroner Charley Hall said the explosion caused both brothers to be thrown, and they both died of blunt force trauma. The coroner pronounced them dead at the scene.

The incident occurred on Meadows Road in Lower Mifflin Township, according to police.

This kind of incident is rare in Pennsylvania, but not unheard of, according to Doug Schaufler, research associate in machinery systems at Penn State in the department of agricultural and biological engineering.

There is one other death associated with a manure spreader tire exploding, which occurred in 2012, Schaufler said.

“The tires they are dealing with are usually pretty big, and it’s very difficult to get them back on to the rim sometimes if they’ve taken it off, done a repair and put it back on,” he said. “When you see the large manure spreaders on the road that have three axles or two axles and the large field tires, those are very heavy tires.”

Shaufler said the process to change a tire on a piece of farm equipment is much more involved than changing a tire on a car or truck.

“The pressure isn’t that much higher (than a car tire), but the volume of it can make it that much more dangerous because it just holds that much more air,” he said.

There were a total of 27 farm fatalities in Pennsylvania last year, according to a report from the Penn State Ag Extension.

More than half of those deaths were a result of being hit by a piece of farm equipment and many involved tractor rollovers, according to the Penn State report.

Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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