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Hughson man dies in tractor accident
A Hughson farmer was killed Monday morning when a tractor he was working on crushed and pinned him in a garage.

The accident occurred behind the residence at 8355 Hamlow Road southeast of Hughson. A 9-1-1 call was placed from the residence at approximately 9:37 a.m.

Daniel Baptista, 81, died in the incident.

Rajinder Singh, a spokesman for the Stanislaus Sheriff's Department, said that Baptista was working on the tractor outside the white two-car garage. He previously had removed a gas tank for repairs. For some unknown reason, Baptista fired up on the tractor with what little gas was still in the lines, said Singh, and the tractor began to roll, knocking him down and pinning him between the tire and the wall of the garage.

"Until they do an autopsy they can't confirm that it ran him over," said Singh.

Baptista was crushed to death inside the garage when paramedics arrived.

"The man previously had a history of heart problems," said Singh. "It looks like he may have had a heart attack and the tractor rolled over him, giving him significant injuries."

Tim Counts of Hughson, married to Baptista's daughter Karen, doubts that his father-in-law was crushed in the accident but said he did strike his head on the back of the tractor.

"Why he started the tractor nobody knows," said Counts.

Tim Counts just suffered the loss of his father on Sunday, then his father-in-law a day later.

"We're dealing with two deaths at the same time," he told the Courier on Wednesday.

Baptista was a longtime Hughson area resident and farmer, said his Pastor Don Slaven of First Baptist Church of Hughson.

"He's farmed for a lot of years," said Slaven. "He was very faithful to the church, very faithful to the Lord. He served as a deacon in the church."

"He was so loved," said Counts. "Everybody who knew him always had good things to say about him. He was a real Christian man."