Deadly grain bin accident victims ID'd

July 29, 2010 1:31:29 PM PDT
Two people have died and a third was injured in northwestern Illinois after becoming trapped in a grain bin. Authorities were first called to the scene around 10 a.m. Wednesday at a bin owned by Haasbach in Mount Carroll.

Rescue workers cut holes in the sides of the bin and drained out thousands of pounds of corn as they tried to get to one of the people in the bin.

In a news release, the Carroll County Sheriff's Department says 19-year-old Alejandro Pacas and 14-year-old Wyatt R. Whitebread were removed from the grain bin after 10 p.m. and pronounced dead.

A third person, 20-year-old William Piper, was taken to a hospital and then flown to another hospital. He was listed in serious condition Thursday morning.

Authorities say the incident is under investigation.

"All the farmers just dropped what they were doing and came in with their semis and tractors," said Jason Johns, Mt. Carroll resident.

Residents say grain bin accidents happen once or twice a year but never has one of this magnitude taken place. So when the news got out that three people working at Consolidated Grain and Barge for the summer were stuck in a 500,000 bushel bin, dozens mobilized, along with emergency workers from all over the region.

"They were in the bin... they were trying to break through to get the corn to come out and that's when things fell through," said said Lee Behrems, resident.

The heat made rescue efforts difficult as workers had to continually rotate out. Nearly six hours after the first 911 call was made, one of the three victims was found alive and airlifted to a Rockford hospital.

"He's a great frisbee player. I used to play with him all the time. A very loving guy. He was always a good friend. Mess with somebody that was his friend, he'd mess with them," said Aron Hayward, friend of one of the victims.

"It's a small community. It's bad if they lose somebody, if they get injured, it is bad what the family has to go through. It is tough," said Behrems.

Piper graduated from West Carroll High School last year. Of the two deceased, one graduated this year as well, and the other would have been a sophomore this coming year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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