Sleepy Eye Fire Department rescues man from grain bin

The Sleepy Eye Fire Department rescued a man from a grain bin Tuesday, turning a potentially tragic circumstance into one of relief.

Fire crews responded at about 11:30 a.m. to an individual trapped in a grain bin about three miles west of Sleepy Eye. Fire Chief Ron Zinniel said the man was buried up to his neck in corn when rescue crews arrived. Zinniel declined to name the victim, but the New Ulm Journal identified him as Robert Nelson.

Zinniel said the fire department has special grain bin rescue equipment that encapsulates the trapped victim in a tube.  Then a miniature auger attached to a drill augers the grain away from the person.  Zinniel said the equipment cuts holes in the bin to flow the grain away from the victim.  The equipment was donated by a local grain elevator.

Nelson was freed from the bin after rescuers worked for about an hour.  “He’s a strong individual,” said Zinniel.  “He did everything we asked of him.”

“They’re very dangerous,” Zinniel said of grain bins.  “Once you get in them, that grain will get a hold of your legs and it will slowly pull you down like quicksand.”   He said there were about 5,000 to 7,000 bushels of corn in the bin at the time Nelson became trapped.

Nelson was transported to a hospital, but he was released later that afternoon.

The Sleepy Eye Police Department and Brown County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.

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