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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

Man drowns as harvester enters pond

GENOA - A Clay Township farmer drowned yesterday after the harvester he was driving rolled down a slope into a home-made pond, authorities said.

Paul Routher, 62, was pronounced dead at his home farm at 627 Opfer-Lentz Rd., about three miles southeast of Genoa, Clay Township police Chief Roger Schultze said.

About 6 p.m., Mr. Routher was driving a cabbage harvester in a dike area of the farm. As he was backing up, the harvester rolled downhill and went off a drop into a 50-feet-deep irrigation pond, Chief Schultze said.

"It was an unexpected, freakish, tragic farm accident. There was no reason for it," added Chief Schultze, a personal friend of Mr. Routher. "He was a great farmer."

Mr. Routher was the patriarch of Routher Farms, which he co-owned with his sons. He inherited the farm, which now grows mostly cabbages and peppers, from his parents.

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