Man dies in second fatal grain bin accident this week

First responders near Manteno, Ill., on Wednesday had to use ropes -- much like the ones pictured at this 2018 grain bin rescue in Iowa -- to rescue two men in a commercial grain bin after one man fell in. Photo provided by Burlington Fire Department

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 10 (UPI) — For the second time this week, a man has died in a grain bin accident.

Chester Cleveland, 58, fell Wednesday into a commercial grain bin at Whitaker grain elevator near Manteno, Ill.

Cleveland, who had been an employee at the company 40 years, had been cleaning the silo with another worker, Heriberto Reyes, 29, said Ken McCabe, the chief deputy at the Kankakee Sheriff’s Office in Kankakee County.

The bin was nearly empty of corn, so the two were working near the bottom. Around 11 a.m., they decided to leave the bin for lunch, McCabe said. To do that, they had to climb a steal ladder built into the side of the bin.

Reyes reached the top first. When he turned to look back down the ladder, he saw Cleveland fall. Fire officials said he likely fell about 70 feet.

Reyes “said there was dust and condensation on the ladder,” McCabe said.

Reyes called for help, and then climbed back into the bin to check on his colleague.

“When he went back down, [Cleveland] was still conscious and complaining of pain,” McCabe said.

It took rescue crews several hours to enter the bin.

“It was a difficult access,” Manteno Fire Chief Scott O’Brien said. “The bin had a rebar-type ladder made of older steel. It was not safe enough for us to go down. We don’t want other people getting hurt during the rescue. We needed a rope rescue team.”

Cleveland was dead when rescue crews removed him from the silo.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident, O’Brien said. The grain elevator company declined to comment.

OSHA recently fined a grain facility in North Dakota $190,000 after the death of one of its employees, saying the company “failed to follow OSHA standards during grain bin entry and cleaning operations.”

On Monday, a grain bin accident claimed the life of another man just in Indiana. Daniel Haupert, 66, smothered in a bin of soybeans on his farm in Urbana.


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