A farmer in Independence died Tuesday when he was caught in his combine.

Mark McCulley, 62, was harvesting oats when he became trapped in the auger head of a combine near the 2100 block of County Road 92 S., according to the West Hennepin Public Safety Department, which serves Maple Plain and Independence. McCulley was dead when officers and the Maple Plain Fire Department arrived about 5:40 p.m.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Foul play isn't suspected, police said.

McCulley and his family are longtime residents of Independence, where they have raised turkeys and farmed.

He is a well-known and respected farmer in the area, said Gary Kroells, West Hennepin Public Safety director. "His death is a tragedy not only to his family and friends, but to our farming community in Independence and beyond."

"This is a cruel reminder for all of us as we enter into harvest season this fall," Kroells said. "Life is fragile and power equipment is dangerous."

Mary Lynn Smith