SALEM, Conn. - A 6-year-old boy helping his father on a landscaping job during school vacation was killed Tuesday after getting pulled into a wood chipper, state police said.
Jeffrey Bourgeois was putting a branch in the chipper at about 8:45 a.m. when it yanked him into the machine after his father momentarily turned his back, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman. The accident happened at a home in Salem, a town of about 4,000 people nearly 30 miles southeast of Hartford.
Vance said the accident was so terrible that grief counsellors were called to the scene.
"The little guy was apparently trying to help his dad," Vance said. "It's a very tragic and difficult scene for everybody."
Jeffrey and his two older siblings were with their father, Scott Bourgeois, who owns C&S Tree Removal. The family lives in Salem, less than a half-mile from where the accident happened.
Jeffrey was a first-grader at Salem Elementary School, where he was honoured in the school newsletter with a "Caught Being Good" award in December.
Jeffrey and his family also enjoyed running in road races. In the Salem Kids 1 Mile Race in April 2011, he finished 45th with a time of 12:32, according to thelastmileracing.com.
The town's fire chief, Eugene Maiorano, was the first emergency responder to the accident.
"We're getting counselling for the family," Maiorano told WTNH-TV. "The family lives right across the street from me so I was the first on the scene. Saw that we had basically kept everybody away."
Salem First Selectman Kevin Lynden called Tuesday "a very, very sad day for our Salem residents. This was a Salem family, very good family in town, a well-known family. Our hearts and prayers go out to them."
The interim superintendent of Salem schools, Kaye Griffin, said a school would open during vacation week to provide counselling to students accompanied by parents. She said the school system is also developing plans to offer counselling for students and staff members when classes resume next week.