Firefighters rescue man from corn-filled grain elevator in Isabella County
SHEPHERD, MI – Trapped in a grain elevator, an Isabella County farmer nearly found himself buried alive in corn, but managed to escape death thanks to the efforts of firefighters.
Just before 11 a.m. on Wednesday February 24, Shepherd police responded to a call from a man trapped inside a grain silo filled with corn on a family farm in South Shepherd’s 11,000 block Road.
Someone at the farm called 911.
“It’s a life and death situation,” police wrote on the the department’s Facebook page. “It’s not our daily call either, nor are we equipped with the tools and training to handle it.”
Luckily for the police and the man in the trash can, Shepherd Tri-Township firefighters also responded to the scene.
Shepherd Tri-Township Fire Department captain Brad Doepker said the farmer had been in the bin about 18 feet high to remove the clumps of decked corn.
“At the time, the auger was on,” Doepker said. “When he released the corn, it basically pulled him and the board he was on into the corn in the center of the bin.”
Firefighters arrived and climbed the outer ladder of the ferry. Looking inside the trash, they saw the man buried up to his neck in corn, Doepker said.
“Her hands and the bottom of her arms were out of the corn,” Doepker said. “He was talking to us and we were able to bring him a rope. He put it around his back and under his arms, so we had some kind of tightening mechanism to secure him and prevent him from going any further.
Mount Pleasant Public Safety firefighters and their technical rescue group also responded to the scene, bringing in a ladder truck to serve as an anchor point above the ferry. Firefighters also stopped Mitchell’s Gourmet Deli & Market, 197 E. Wright Ave., to pick up crates of flatbread for rescuers to drop into the trash and walk on.
“They keep the corn from moving while we’re walking on it,” Doepker said.
Doepker and a member of the Technical Rescue Group entered the trash can on the crates and placed a four-sided rescue box around the victim. They then removed the corn from the box by hand until they could extract the man from the top of the trash, Doepker said.
The man remained conscious and ambulatory after being rescued. He was taken to an area hospital, although Doepker could not comment on the injuries the man may have sustained.
Doepker praised the teamwork among the rescuers involved and especially praised Mitchell for helping with the bread crates.
“These types of support are vitally important to a small town community,” said the captain.
The Shepherd Police Department also praised his fellow firefighters.
“While they probably would never admit it, they were absolute heroes today and saved a life,” the department said on its Facebook page. “Police and firefighters are enjoying a healthy joke. They love to make jokes about us and donuts and we often remind them that the rain can do their job. But we see them as our brothers and sisters and are honored to serve with them!