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Child dies after farming equipment accident in Watertown

The child was pronounced dead on the scene.

WATERTOWN, Conn. — A four-year-old child has died in Watertown after reportedly getting stuck under a farm tractor.

The child has been identified as four-year-old Ellie Kuslis.

Watertown police said at approximately 3:30 p.m., Watertown Police and Watertown Fire Departments responded to a field on Barnes Road between Lake Winnemaug Road and Bunker Hills Road for a report of a child entrapped under a farm tractor. 

"The loss of one's child is the ultimate tragedy," Watertown Chief of Police Joshua Bernegger said. "We want the Kuslis family to know that the Watertown Police Department, along with the entire Watertown and Oakville community grieves the loss of Ellie with you."

Watertown police said when they arrived on the scene they saw the child was entangled in farming equipment that was running. The child was pronounced dead on the scene. 

The Office of the Chief State's Medical Examiner ruled the death an accident.

The child's death is under investigation. 

Chief Bernegger said that the call was very distressing for emergency personnel and they are receiving counseling. 

"As you can imagine, responding to such a horrific and tragic death of an innocent, little four-year-old girl has deeply affected our responding officers and detectives and well as our dispatchers who answered those 911 calls for help," he said.

"As difficult as this tragedy is for our responders, it pales in comparison to the grief and heartbreak being experienced by the Kuslis family," Bernegger added.

The farm's Facebook page asked for privacy, showing eggs for sale, saying "Ellie would like to have them shared and enjoyed."

PRIVACY PLEASE But Ellie would like these to be shared and enjoyed.

Posted by Kuslis Farm on Monday, April 25, 2022

"To the Kuslis family, please know we share your sadness and pain," Town Manager Mark Raimo said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "Our hearts and prayers are with you during this devastating time."

An obituary from Hickcox Funeral Home said "she had a wit, warmth and sparkle and imbued every minute of a day with joy, laughter and wisdom beyond her years."

The obituary went on to say, "every inch of Kuslis Farm was known to her as she explored life with an energy unmatched by others and a curiosity unparalleled. Ellie is forever a part of the land she grew up on."

The funeral home said a private service will be announced in the future for family and close friends. 

Honor Wellness Center CEO/Executive Director Phyllis DiGioia explained how important debriefings and support services can be for officers who respond to traumatic calls. The organization provides mental health and trauma treatment for public safety first responders and military personnel, among other services.

"From the standpoint of being a public safety first responder, so many of them come in saying, it's not necessarily the one call, it's hundreds of different types of calls," she said.

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Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at ddashefsky@fox61.com.

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