Silo rescues risky for rescuers

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Wednesday night, the body of Lyle Lowtharp of Pocahontas was discovered in a grain bin buried beneath 450 bushels of corn.  It took several hours for rescue crews, using special equipment brought in from Corning, to free him.

Greene County Rescue Squad Chief Curtis Davenport said every rescue can be a race against time.

"Getting there quick enough and getting the grain off of them," said Davenport.

There are two types of grain bin accidents:  entrapment and engulfment.  Someone who is trapped is partially covered and someone who is engulfed is fully covered by the grain.  According to The Progressive Farmer, someone can suffocate in an inch to an inch and a half of grain.

The Greene County Rescue Squad has been a part of two successful grain bin rescues.  Davenport said they use rappelling equipment during the rescue to get into the grain bin, always entering through the top.

"There's always a chance of collapse when you're in there.  The grain will crust over and there's always a chance of getting rescuers in there and having them entrapped or engulfed," said Davenport.

During a rescue, they make slits in the grain bin and remove the grain in three to four foot increments as evenly as possible.

"People need to realize how dangerous it is and people say we'll that's the way we've always done it and unfortunately it turned into a tragic accident," said Davenport.

Davenport said he understands a farmer or worker has to get inside a grain bin to break up the crust that forms or remove moldy clods of grain, but they should never do it alone.

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