Bull attack kills Illinois dairy farmer
BREESE, Ill. -- Family and friends in this tight-knit community mourned the death of a well-known dairy farmer who died from injuries he received when a bull charged and pinned him against a wall.
Clinton County authorities said Matt Hilmes had just finished feeding his herd of Holsteins at the family farm east of Breese late Wednesday afternoon when the 2,000-pound bull attacked him, pinning him against a wall.
"It hit him twice," said his son Brandon, 11, who was on a tractor nearby when the attack occurred. "It walked a little bit, then hit him again."
Brandon Hilmes tried to save his father by driving a tractor toward the bull and using its scoop to fend off the animal.
"I jabbed at it, then it went away," he said.
He then pushed his severely injured father into the bucket and rumbled back to the farmhouse, where he yelled to his mother for help.
Pam Hilmes said she knew her husband was in grave condition.
"He was sitting on the tractor, saying he couldn't breathe, he couldn't breathe," she said.
An ambulance crew rushed Matt Hilmes, 39, to St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese, where he was put onto a medical helicopter for transfer to a St. Louis hospital. He died en route of chest injuries.
Chief deputy Mark Etter of the Clinton County Sheriff's Department, who grew up on a dairy farm himself, called Brandon Hilmes' actions amazing.
"There's no question about it," Etter said. "That's definitely heroic."
Jeff Strieker, a family friend and principal at District 12 elementary schools in Breese and Beckemeyer, said he would expect nothing less from the 11-year-old.
A little over a year ago, an 800-pound hay bale fell on his grandfather, and authorities credited the boy and his father for helping to remove the hay.
"He basically went and got the bale off him, and saved his life," Strieker said.