An Iowa teenager ready to go back to high school Monday died of injuries she received in a tractor accident Saturday on a Maries County farm.
Rachel Leigh Pruett, 16, daughter of Ronald and Janice Pruett, of Ackworth, Iowa, was visiting relatives in Maries County on the last weekend before her Iowa school resumed classes.
Saturday, she was helping her uncle, Roger Pruett, haul hay. Roger Pruett was in the barn, and when he came back out found Rachel, who had been operating another tractor and trailer, lying on the ground under a trailer tire, Maries County Deputy Coroner Leo Kloeppel said.
"She had apparently lost control," Kloeppel said. Whether she fell off or jumped off the tractor was not clear, but she landed in the path of a trailer tire. The trailer ran over her and stopped.
"Her uncle was able to get her out from underneath," Kloeppel said, "but there's no cell phone service where they were working. He had to drive back to the house and dial 911."
An ambulance responded, but Rachel died while being transported to the hospital, Kloeppel said.
The Des Moines Register reported on its website that Rachel attended Indianola, Iowa, High School and was set to start her junior year of high school.
"Rachel Pruett was helping with work on a family farm in Missouri during the day on Saturday, said Trent Grundmeyer, principal of Indianola High School. She died following a tractor accident, he said," according to the Des Moines Register.
The principal told the Iowa newspaper that he had spoken briefly with Rachel's father, but he did not know details of the accident.
Rachel was prepared to start her junior year at Indianola High School Monday, opening day for the Iowa district, Grundmeyer said.
"She was a cheerleader and participated in track," Grundmeyer said.
Indianola High School was open Sunday between 10 a.m. and noon, and counselors were available to talk to students who had heard the news of the girl's death, according to the principal, who added the counselors will also be available throughout the week.
“It makes a tough week,” the Des Moines Register quoted the principal as saying. “It’s just a nice family, a nice young lady. As always, we’ll band together and do the best we can.”
James & Gahr Mortuary, Rolla, is directing the arrangements.
Information provided by the funeral home noted Rachel was born May 15, 1996, in St. Louis and had formerly lived in Columbia.
At Indianola High School, "she excelled at math and science," the funeral home noted. "She loved sports, music and spending time with her friends. Rachel was a friendly, caring person and will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her."
Page 2 of 2 - In addition to her parents, survivors include her brother, Shane Pruett, of Ackworth, Iowa; grandparents, William “Jack” and Joyce Pruett, of Rolla, and John and Barbara Mangiameli, of Ackworth, Iowa; also, the families of Roger Pruett, Debbie O’Shea and John DiBari, along with many extended family and friends.
A memorial service for Rachel will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at James & Gahr Mortuary in Rolla, Missouri.
Memorials are suggested to the future Rachel Leigh Pruett Scholarship Fund. Cards are available at all James & Gahr locations.
Online condolences may be left by visiting www.jamesgahrmortuary.com.