Dramatic Farm Rescue Near Stanford - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Stanford - Keith Boles, reporting

Dramatic Farm Rescue Near Stanford

   STANFORD (KAIT) - It happened early Wednesday morning on a farm just outside of Stanford, in Greene county. The farmer is in the hospital  recovering.

"He hollered, help me Wendell I'm hung up, he had one arm sticking up and his head and I had to dig his face out so he could breathe a little bit."

Wendell Pitcher is a hero. Early Wednesday morning he and his boss Jimmy Smith were loading soybeans from a silo onto a truck. Then the auger became jammed.

 Pitcher, "Beans quit coming out and he climbed up on there to see what was going on and he seen it was stopped up. Told me to hand him something to poke with. So I handed him something and he started poking, evidently cause the beans started coming back out."

  Shortly Pitcher noticed he hadn't seen or heard from his boss.

   Pitcher, "I tried to open the top door and it wouldn't come open so I climbed up on top. "

  After clearing his friend's face, Pitcher reached for his phone.

  Pitcher, "Climbed back out and tried to get a signal on the phone to call for help you know."

  Help quickly arrived but to Wendell the wait lasted a lifetime.

  "Seemed like ever you know, seemed like for ever but he was hollering help me Wendell, help me Wendell, but I couldn't pull him out you know."

  When Greene County Rescue arrived - efforts had already began.

  Chief Curtis Davenport, "When we arrived on the scene they already had the side door where you normally empty the grain when its pretty much empty. Had it open and using a front end loader to try and remove that grain . He was pretty well covered up they had gotten in there and got an oxygen mask on him. He was covered up over his shoulders."

    In order to relieve the immense pressure on Mister Smith, rescue workers had to cut holes in the side of the bins to allow the beans to come out so rescue workers could get in and dig him out.

  Davenport, "You go two or three feet from the height the grain is inside, make you a smiley face or v-shaped cut fold that cut up and let the grain come down tow or four feet at a time. Make cuts on the opposite side so that the grain comes down level."

   Making several cuts in the bin let enough of the beans empty out below the level of Smiths knees.

   Davenport, "They get in there so tight you can't just get them out. It makes a suction on just like being stuck in the mud. Plus the pressure of the grain it's pretty much like being buried in the sand no way to get him out till you get down below the knees. "

  Around Nine, rescuers were able to remove Smith from the silo.

  Davenport, "I know he was breathing when they left the scene. I did hear him speak as they put him on a spine board inside."

   As for Wendell Pitcher, he's grateful to all who helped rescue Smith, but no doubt Pitchers quick actions kept his friend alive until help arrived.

  Pitcher, "But I got it away from him I guess enough to where he could breathe good enough. He's a tough old man."

  Smith was taken by ambulance to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould where he is reported in stable condition tonight.

   Smiths family members wish to express their sincerest thanks to the rescue personnel who worked to save his life on Wednesday.

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