Buried In Grain
An investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity examines the danger and weak regulatory response of grain bin entrapments.
- Hide captionWorkers drain corn from Haasbach LLC's Bin No. 9 as rescuers work inside to free three trapped boys July 28, 2010, in Mount Carroll, Ill. Triangular-shaped holes like the one pictured (left) were cut all around the bin to drain the corn evenly and keep the structure from collapsing.Alex T. Paschal/AP
- Hide captionFriends and classmates of Wyatt Whitebread, Alex Pacas and Will Piper watch as rescuers work to free the boys from the bin (center) full of thousands of bushels of corn. Only Piper survived.Alex T. Paschal/AP
- Hide captionPiper walks in the woods behind his parents' home in Mount Carroll, Ill. He and Pacas were friends, and used to float on inner tubes in the nearby river.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionThe 2010 rescue and recovery effort at Bin No. 9 (right) spanned 13 hours. More than 200 people worked to rescue Piper and recover the bodies of Whitebread and Pacas.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionWyatt Whitebread was the youngest son of Carla Whitebread, a former Army major and helicopter pilot. She now teaches high school Spanish and seeks solace with her horses at a friend's stables.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionWhitebread was 14 when he was sucked under the corn in the grain bin just down the street from his family's home in Mount Carroll. This photo sits atop a makeshift shrine in a corner of the home.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionGrain operations manager Austin Clubb, wearing a body harness for safety, gazes into the "cone" inside a massive grain bin at Amana Farms in Homestead, Iowa. Cones, which can trap workers, form in the flowing grain as it's drained from bins.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionBill Field of Purdue University has tracked grain bin entrapments and deaths since the 1970s. His database is used by the grain industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionThis photo from OSHA's investigation file shows harnesses and ropes hanging unused in a shed close to Bin No. 9. OSHA cited Haasbach LLC for failing to provide its workers with required safety devices, and for failing to train them in safety procedures.OSHA/Courtesy of OSHA
- Hide captionDave Newcomb of the Illinois Fire Service Institute demonstrates the use of a grain rescue tube during an agricultural safety conference in Iowa in November.John W. Poole/NPR
- Hide captionLisa Jones' kids were close friends with Whitebread, Pacas and Piper, and she often hosted them at her home. The family now holds backyard memorial gatherings on the anniversary of the grain bin tragedy.John W. Poole/NPR
The persistence of grain bin entrapments and a horrific 2010 incident expose weaknesses in worker safety laws and enforcement. An NPR and Center for Public Integrity analysis has found that among 179 deaths since 1984, fines were reduced 60 percent of the time.
March 24, 2013 Nearly 180 people — including 18 teenagers — have been killed in grain-related entrapments at federally regulated facilities across 34 states since 1984, records show.
March 24, 2013 When it comes to regulating worker safety for grain bins, OSHA only oversees the commercial industry. There's debate on whether that should also extend to private farms.