A young Chip Petrea with his modified tractor after his accident in this undated photo.

A Second Chance: After life-changing injury, farmer-turned-researcher now teaches others about agricultural dangers

Robert “Chip” Petrea was trying to feed damp yellow hay into a red baler on a wet Sunday afternoon in 1978, but the machine refused to pick it up.

Petrea was working in a low-lying field that frequently flooded. A storm was headed toward the 89-acre dairy farm located just outside Iuka in south-central Illinois, and he knew that the already soggy hay would be ruined by the coming rain if he could not find a way to get it to bale.