Two brothers die in accident on local farm
Two Carroll County siblings died and a third was injured Saturday during an accident resulting from a cattle roundup on a family farm north of Green Forest.
According to Ted Hostetler, a team leader for the Mennonite Disaster Services Search and Rescue team and on-scene incident commander, Alex Hostetler, 20, and his brother, Layne, 15, died while trying to extricate a straggler steer from a pond on the 1,000-acre farm owned by their father, Louis Hostetler. Their sister, Eileen, 18, was injured attempting to help her brothers get out of the pond.
The accident happened just after 9:30 a.m., when riders were attempting to round up a few stragglers from the herd of 720 cattle. Hostetler said Alex had gone into one of the many ponds on the property to retrieve a steer when he encountered trouble. Layne rushed in to help and soon both brothers were struggling in the water along with the steer and their horses.
“The pond was very deep,” Hostetler said. “It wasn’t very big, but it went down very steep. Very soon, Alex was struggling in the water.”
Hostetler said Alex became unseated in the deep water, prompting Layne to attempt to help his brother.
“Layne was right there on his horse and he just barreled in right after him to help him,” Hostetler said. “So now two boys were hanging on one horse trying to get out.”
Not long after, Eileen saw the predicament her brothers were in and attempted to lend a hand herself. “She ended up in the water in the bottom of the pond and reached up and felt a stirrup, hung on and the horse dragged her to the edge,” Hostetler said. “In the process, she got kicked in the head.”
While this was happening, a cousin also attempted to lend a hand. By this time, many of the other riders assisting in the roundup had arrived and someone called 911.
Hostetler said he received the page at 9:44 a.m.
“I was not the first one there,” Hostetler said. “I got a call from the scene as someone else was on the phone with 911, and I immediately came en route. By the time I got there, we had three different dive teams en route, but when I pulled into the scene, up to the pond, they were pulling the second one of the boys out.”
Hostetler’s crew — all experienced and highly trained — performed CPR on the brothers and treated the sister while waiting for EMS to arrive.
The brothers were transported by ambulance to hospitals in Berryville and Harrison, where they were later pronounced dead. Their sister was transported by Air Evac helicopter to a Springfield hospital, where she was treated and released.
The two brothers were both experienced riders doing what was expected to be routine work, Hostetler said.
“Alex and Layne loved horses,” Hostetler said. “They loved cattle. This was their passion. Dad bought this big farm and they took care of the cattle and lots of horses. They rode horses daily.”
Hostetler said the accident and resulting deaths were a heavy blow to the family and the county’s Mennonite community as a whole, not to mention his search-and-rescue team members.
“Our guys, I’m going to say, without being too proud, are very well trained,” Hostetler said. “Now we show up to a scene that is one of our people. At a time like this, training and experience kicks in, but then after the fact, you kind of feel like you’re going to go to pieces.”
Hostetler praised the other first responders who provided assistance, including the Oak Grove and Green Forest fire departments, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Southern Paramedic Service and Air Evac.
“In a situation like this, we give everything we have for the person we’re working on and for the family,” Hostetler said. “We did everything and beyond any human power to save those lives.”
Hostetler said the community gathered together with the family after the accident.
“I’ll be honest with you, the family is struggling,” Hostetler said. “They need people’s prayers. They lost their two oldest sons and it’s hard to grasp right now. It will take some time, but we’re a community that sticks together. We’re here for each other. We believe in the power of prayer and community.”
Hostetler said visitation for the brothers was held Tuesday at the Mennonite school at 849 CR 601, followed by funeral services on Wednesday at the Mennonite church with arrangements by Nelson Funeral Service of Berryville.
“[We know] the community is grieving besides the Mennonites, and it’s OK for them to come,” Hostetler said. “It’s a blessing to live in Northwest Arkansas, in Carroll County.”
A memorial fund for the family has been set up at Anstaff Bank. Those who wish to contribute should specify the money is for the “Alex and Layne Hostetler Memorial Fund.” Checks may be dropped off at any Anstaff Bank location and bank customers may also transfer money directly to the account.
“Our culture is such that our families are together when things like this happen,” Hostetler said. “We have their meals planned for every meal between now and past the funeral for the family. We take care of our families and it’s a blessing.”