NEWMAN — The driver of a hay squeeze lift died Wednesday morning when he drove off Highway 132 and rolled the farm equipment down an embankment east of Turlock Lake.
Kenneth Caton, 49, of Newman, was heading east on Highway 132 west of Lake Road at about 8 a.m. when the vehicle went off the road and down a steep embankment near the Tuolumne River, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Green.
The hay squeeze, which does just what its name implies and resembles a fork lift, overturned at least once.
The front tines that grab the hay bales dug into the field and vaulted the hay squeeze end over end, Green said.
Caton, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.
Hay squeezes usually are equipped with restraints but because it is farm equipment used exclusively for agriculture operations, their drivers are not required to wear them, Green said.
No one saw the collision so it is unclear why Caton went off the road. it Green said it appears that he might have been traveling too fast to negotiate a curve in the road near the location of the crash.