Jeremy Seibel and Rodney Seibel, father and son, from Woodmohr, Wisconsin, a small community just outside of Bloomer, died July 2 at the farm where they were working. The Leader Telegram reported that rescue workers pulled both of the men from a manure tank, and they tried to revive them. They had no luck. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
WQOW 18 said according to witnesses, Rodney Seibel climbed down a four-foot ladder into the manure pit to try to retrieve a wheel that had broken off a manure conveyor. Rodney was quickly overcome by the manure gas. Jeremy Seibel then climbed down to try to get his father out of the pit. He succumbed to the poison gasses as well.
According to the Chippewa County sheriff’s office, the two died within minutes of going down into the pit. They will be put to rest together at the St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Bloomer on Wednesday, July 8.
The National Ag Safety Database (NASD) warns on their site of increased incidents involving accidents associated with manure pit storage. Four extremely powerful poisons can be present in a manure pit, especailly one below ground. These poisonous gases include hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and methane. The presence of all of these gases can rob oxygen from the air, which seems to be the case with Jeremy Seibel and Rodney Seibel.
The NASD gives a list of precautions people should take when having manure pits on a premises that humans and animals may be present in.
- Know the physical effects of the various gases released during manure decomposition. If at any time these effects are detected, it is critically important that both workers and livestock are evacuated from the area or ample ventilation provided.
- Maintain adequate ventilation in all confined areas where livestock are housed or livestock waste is stored. This is especially true if the manure is being agitated, since agitation causes a rapid release of gases. Even with the facility’s ventilation system operating, high levels of toxic gases can accumulate quickly. Ventilation recommendations are available from a number of sources.
- If the power fails, open all windows and doors and remove livestock if possible. Many farmers with livestock confinement operations have invested in portable or emergency power generating units to insure livestock housing areas have continuous power for ventilation.
- Since a methane/air mixture can be highly explosive, prohibit smoking or other open flames in confined housing or manure storage areas.
At this moment, Jeremy Seibel and Rodney Seibel’s deaths have been deemed a tragic accident. No one is being held negligent. It seems to be an instance where a son was just doing whatever he could to save his dad.
[Photo by Modern Farm Wife]