By Ryan Gueningsman
WOODLAND TOWNSHIP, MN Everyone involved is thankful that it turned out as well as it did.
Loren Helmbrecht, 57, of Howard Lake, became trapped in a grain bin filled with soybeans Wednesday morning while working at Randy Dalbec’s farm south of Montrose on Highway 25 SW in Woodland Township.
“You crawl up there and see what you got,” Montrose Fire Chief Mike Marketon said about rescuing a trapped victim.
He looked into the bin and saw Helmbrecht buried up to his shoulders.
“You try to build a box around him and shovel away from him,” Marketon said. “Once you build the box, you keep shoveling out methodically and expose his chest. You keep building the box bigger. It’s a slow process.”
Montrose authorities were called to the farm at 9:25 a.m., and Helmbrecht was removed from the bin around noon, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
A hole had become plugged, and Dalbec and Helmbrecht were trying to unplug it, Dalbec said, adding that he was able to tie a rope to Helmbrecht and then called 911.
Helmbrecht did not appear to have any injuries from the incident and was checked by personnel from Ridgeview Ambulance. Montrose Fire Department cleared the scene just before 1 p.m.
Agencies assisting the sheriff’s office and Montrose Fire Department at the scene included the Watertown Fire Department, Ridgeview Ambulance, and FitzSimmons Service Co.
“I’m just happy everything turned out alright,” Dalbec said. “A big ‘thanks’ to the fire departments and everyone who came to help get him out.”
Dalbec farms about 150 acres at that site, and also has additional acres in the area.
The Montrose Fire Department had a similar rescue in February 2009, when it rescued Herasmo Olivas from neck-high frozen corn in a grain bin owned by Jerry Untiedt north of Montrose in Marysville Township.
According to federal and state statistics, farming is one of the most dangerous professions. Last year, 18 of the 60 work-related deaths in Minnesota were in the agriculture industry, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.