Missouri News

Palmyra fire chief: 'Don't go in a grain bin'

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 6, 2020 2:00 pm Updated: May. 6, 2020 4:26 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. — Palmyra Fire Chief Gary Crane has one piece of advice for area farmers busy moving grain and clearing bins.

"Don't go in a grain bin," Crane said. "It's not worth it. There's other ways of doing things."

Crane's safety advice came after a worker with a farming operation near Palmyra died Tuesday night after being trapped in a grain bin.

Marion County Coroner Richard Jones said Theodore Smith Jr., 63, of the Philadelphia area, was pronounced dead at 9:04 p.m. at the grain bin site.

Jones said an investigation continues into Smith's death.

The Palmyra Fire Department was called at 6:30 p.m. to the farm on Route B, just off Route JJ, in the river bottom, Crane said, and found two farm employees unloading the bin in an effort to free the trapped man.

"We started opening up the bin, taking saws and cutting triangles in the side of the bin to start flowing grain out, but we could not see him anymore. He was already pulled into the bin," Crane said.

Rescuers located Smith about 8 p.m. in the middle of the bin.

"We were able to pull him away from the area once we moved enough grain from around him," Crane said.

Crane said around 30 people were involved in the rescue including other farmers and firefighters and equipment from Tri-Township and Quincy, both in Illinois, Canton and Hannibal as well as two ambulances from Marion County.

"Everybody done what they could," Crane said. "What a great crew. I'd call every one of them right back in that situation again."

The grain bin entrapment was Crane's first in 41 years with the department.

"We've had grain bin fires before, but never an individual trapped in one. This was our first. I hope it's our last," he said.

Crane understands that farmers may want to enter bins to check on equipment — and may do that regularly.

"This individual may have done this 100 times — I'm not saying that's what happened — and sometimes you just react, force of habit," he said. "You can get very complacent with what you're doing with your job and not think things through."


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