A man working to free up frozen corn in a central Minnesota grain bin became trapped and died, authorities said Wednesday.
Brandon Schaefer, 35, of Albany, Minn., was pulled from the bin on a farm in St. Martin Township on Tuesday morning and was soon pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, according to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.
“Preliminary investigation revealed Mr. Schaefer was working in the grain bin to loosen up the frozen corn,” read a statement from the Sheriff’s Office. “He fell in and was buried.”
One of Schaefer’s parents called the Sheriff’s Office after suspecting he may have fallen into the bin.
St. Martin Fire Department personnel “worked diligently” in the bin, which was three-fourths full of corn, in their effort to save Schaefer, the Sheriff’s Office noted.
Nationwide, 15 people died in grain storage incidents last year, according to data analyzed by Purdue University.
Schaefer’s death is one of at least nine grain storage-related fatalities in Minnesota since June 2019.
Three people died after a grain storage incident Dec. 21 in the western Minnesota community of Brandon. Curt Boesl, 47, and his 11-year-old son, Alex, were working on top of a grain silo and were overcome by toxic fumes.
Another family member called 911, and Curt’s brother, Steve Boesl, 49, tried to climb inside to save his brother and nephew but succumbed to the same fumes.