A prison inmate is seriously injured after falling off a tractor, and the incident is raising safety concerns.

The State Department of Public Safety says an inmate at Kulani Correctional Facility on Hawaii island was assigned to the heavy machinery work line. He was jump-starting a tractor when he slipped and fell off, and went under the rear tire. 

The family is looking for answers as to how something like this could have happened.

Family members have identified the inmate as Royce Rivera, 32. They say he was flown to Queen’s Medical Center on Monday with broken hips and a fractured spine.

“Where were the supervisors? Do they allow the inmates to do this on their own? Did the supervisor tell him and other inmates to jump start a tractor?” said Rivera’s mother, Jeanett Dillion.

She’s in disbelief at what happened. Her son had told her that he was operating a tractor but said he had not been given much training to do so.

A spokeswoman for DPS tells us that inmates on the heavy machinery work line go through intensive training and a supervisor is present while they’re working.

Rivera’s mother is also frustrated by a lack of information from the prison. The hospital called her but she says all they could say was that he’s in intensive care.

She didn’t know the details until the mother of another inmate who was there when it happened called her.

“Devastated and shocked because I’m in Texas. I’m thousands of miles away. I considered flying there but do I go there and try and see him and be turned away?” she said.

DPS says the state is prevented by privacy law from providing medical information. The family is hoping they’ll be allowed to visit him in the hospital to get the answers they need.

“He’s due to come out next October. I mean is he going to be disabled? I don’t know. Is he even paralyzed? I don’t know. Nobody’s giving me any type of information at all,” Dillion said.

Rivera’s father is flying in from Maui Tuesday night. He’s hoping that he’ll be allowed to visit his son at the hospital.

DPS says an investigation into the accident is underway. We’ll let you know when we find out more.