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Grain bin tragedy averted in Lafayette Co.
Combined response likely saved victim’s life, officials say
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By Gary Mays


DARLINGTON — A fast and coordinated emergency response likely saved the life of an elderly man who had fallen into a rural grain bin on Friday, June 14.

Authorities say the man had fallen in to the full bin just after 11:10 a.m. at the farm on Holland Road in Seymour Township. The call came in after other people working on the scene unsuccessfully tried to pull the man out of corn that was well above his waist, officials said.

The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office and Darlington Fire Department were among the first two to arrive, according to authorities, adding that some had driven directly to the scene in personal vehicles. Out of an abundance of caution, a medical helicopter was summoned to the scene, though ultimately not used to transport the victim, said Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill.

That victim, Ronald Fuhr, 75, was transported by ambulance after he was freed but was not seriously injured, according to Sheriff Reg Gill, who himself was among the responders on scene. It took just about an hour to free him, authorities estimate.

“There were a lot of people there,” Gill said. “It was quite a response.” 

According to the sheriff and Darlington Fire Chief Brien Cleary, emergency crews used a ladder truck and a specialized rescue tool that displaces the corn around a victim for easier rescue.

In addition to the sheriff’s office and Darlington Fire and EMS; a multi-county task force of emergency responders arrived — including those from Iowa and Grant Counties — ready to offer their unique expertise just as the victim was being pulled from the grain bin.

“It was a great team effort by everyone,” Cleary said.

Such grain bin accidents are on the rise, experts say. A 2022 summary of agricultural incidents showed the number of reported fatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces increased by approximately 40% in a single year, according to Purdue University report.