WHEN ACCIDENTAL DEATH results from dangerous techniques of sexual self-stimulation, family members are always puzzled and often find the victim's behavior incomprehensible. When the dangerous technique involves bondage, suspension, complex apparatus, or machinery, even seasoned death investigators may be perplexed. We report two cases of asphyxiation during autoerotic activity employing hydraulic shovels on tractors.

Case 1
A forty-two-year-old Asian man was found hanging by the neck, suspended by a rope attached to the raised shovel of a John Deere model JD 410 diesel-powered backhoe tractor. He was last seen alive by his parents the previous evening at 10:30, when he walked out of their shared rural home.

Shortly thereafter they heard the tractor engine start, as they had on prior occasions, but they did not investigate further. The following morning the father noticed that his son's bed had not been slept in, The victim wrote about his tractor in a love poem.
and he heard the tractor engine idling. When he went out to the yard, he found his son dead, stiff, and cold.

The decedent was suspended in a semi-sitting position by a cloth safety-harness strap wrapped around his neck and clipped to a rope that was hooked on the raised shovel of the backhoe tractor. The victim had used the ligature to achieve partial autoerotic asphyxiation, and it was hypothesized that he lost consciousness and accidentally hanged.

Two years before his death, the decedent had bought the backhoe tractor as a Christmas gift to himself and named it "Stone." He used the backhoe on occasional ditch-digging jobs. He wrote about it in a Christmas newsletter to friends, in which he enclosed Stone's picture. He also wrote about his tractor in a long poem, which alluded to flying high in the sky with his friend, Stone.

Case 2
A sixty two-year-old white man was found dead in his barn, pinned under the hydraulic front scoop of a John Deere 1520 model 145 tractor. A neighbor found him Iying prone on the ground with the scoop of the tractor on his back. The tractor engine was no longer running, but the ignition was still in the on position.

The victim was nude except for a pair of red women's style shoes with eight-inch heels, knee-high nylon stockings, and duct tape wrapped around his ankles. His ankles were tied to a four-foot-long segment of pipe such that his legs were spread. The victim wore only red women's shoes with 8" heels, nylons, and duct tape around his ankles.

A yoke was attached to the center of the pipe, which was attached to the front loader bucket by a chain. Two ropes led from the victim to the tractor's control lever for raising and tilting the bucket. Fully raising the hydraulic bucket would have caused complete suspension of his inverted body by the ankles.

AUTOEROTIC DEATHS INVOLVING THE USE OF MACHINERY have been reported previously, most of them involving household or homemade electrical devices that caused electrocution. To the authors' knowledge, no prior cases of autoerotic death involving the hydraulics of heavy machinery have been reported.


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