Two men die after being trapped in grain elevator

Two men died after being buried under 20-25 feet of grain at a Gavilon Grain site Tuesday afternoon. (Video by Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)
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Two men died after being buried under 20-25 feet of grain at a Gavilon Grain site Tuesday afternoon. (Video by Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)
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Two men die after being trapped under 20 feet of grain

By Kaitlyn Alanis

kalanis@wichitaeagle.com

January 02, 2018 06:41 PM

Two men are dead after being buried under 20 to 25 feet of grain at a Gavilon Grain site. The site, near 55th South and Hoover Road, is formerly known as DeBruce Grain.

Emergency crews reached the two men after about three hours of attempting to rescue, and then recover, both of them. They were found toward the lower-middle of a 120- to 140-foot tall concrete grain bin.

It is not yet known if the two were Gavilon Grain employees or why the men were in the grain bin, said Larry Tangney, Sedgwick County Fire District 1 deputy chief. It is also not known who first reported the grain collapse just before 2:30 p.m.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. OSHA warns that moving grain acts like quicksand and can engulf a person in 22 seconds. Because of the danger, OSHA requires that workers who enter a grain bin wear a body harness with a lifeline.

In 2016, the most recent set of data available, there were 29 documented grain-entrapment cases — 11 of which were fatal — according to a study by Purdue University. Each case represents an individual.

The majority of grain entrapment cases occurred in the Midwest, according to the report.

DeBruce Grain merged with Gavilon Grain in 2010. The DeBruce Grain elevator exploded in 1998, killing seven employees and injuring 10.

Kansas’ 700-plus commercial grain elevators must follow OSHA’s safety standards set in 1988, which were instituted after many deadly grain dust explosions in the late 1970s.

Since then, most of the grain workers who have died were killed in single-fatality accidents.

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-269-6708, @kaitlynalanis