Grain Bin Entrapment and Engulfment “Seconds to Tragedy” from the Grain Handling Safety Coalition

The Grain Handling and Safety Coalition presents “Seconds to Tragedy-Grain Safety for Young Workers”. In 2010, two young workers were engulfed and killed inside a grain bin in Mt. Carroll, IL. This tragedy inspired a group of individuals to form the Grain Handling and Safety Coalition.

Firefighters, paramedics, police officers and area farmers responded on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 to a grain entrapment and engulfment accident at Consolidated Grain and Barge in Mount Carroll. Four boys were stuck in grain in a 500,000 bushel bin. One boy got out on his own.

The boys were inside the bin trying to break through clumps of corn that developed from a wet season.

Residents say grain bin accidents happen once or twice a year but the accidents never occurred with this severity and magnitude. So when the news got out that three teenagers working at Consolidated Grain and Barge for the summer dozens mobilized, along with emergency workers from all over the region.

238 Rescuers
17 Fire & Rescue Squads
12 Ambulances
2 Helicopters (Lifeline)
(Including High-Angle Rescue Team)

36 Personnel
6 Police Departments
Illinois State Police
State Police Tactical Force

40 Grain Trucks
7 Grain Vacs
3 Enloaders

One of the youths got out on his own, but of the remaining three boys, only one boy, Will Piper, was rescued safely. He was rescued with injuries, and was listed in serious condition. Wyatt Whitebread, age 14, and Alejandro Pacas, age 19, were killed.

Emergency workers cut and punched holes in the bin to expedite draining of grain in an effort to get to the teenagers. Extreme heat made rescue efforts difficult and rescue worker had to be rotated. After almost six hours after the first 911 call, one of the three teenagers was found alive and airlifted to a hospital in Rockford. The two remaining teens, including a 15-year-old boy, did not survive and were removed later Wednesday night.

In 2014, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. was found guilty on three counts of negligence. The company was ordered to pay $16 million in total to the Pacas and Whitebread families, and $875,000 to Piper.

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