Drowning in corn kernels: Inside Minnesota fire department's grueling grain bin rescue

  • Source: Coffee or Die Magazine
  • Published: 07/01/2022 12:00 AM

PHOTOS: When emergency dispatchers told Minnesota’s Sleepy Eye Fire Department that a man was drowning in corn kernels, the volunteers knew they were facing a farm foe as deadly as a city’s towering inferno. “It’s just pulling them down like quicksand is what it is,” Sleepy Eye Fire Chief Ron Zinniel told Coffee or Die Magazine. The incident began shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 28, along County Road 27 in Prairieville Township. Farmer Robert Nelson, 82, was trying to break apart a clump of kernels stuck in his grain bin so the corn could start flowing again through the auger. That’s a device that carries grain into a silo for storage or pulls it out to load in a truck or wagon to take to market. Nelson thought he could jog the obstructed corn loose quickly, so he didn’t bother to turn off the auger while he kneeled in the sea of seed. Then the kernels began to sluice swiftly through the machinery again, and he started sinking into a quagmire of corn.


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