UPDATE: An elderly Rockton farmer trapped in a grain bin not only survives but walks out. It was a long rescue effort by more than a dozen fire departments. Despite his wife's protest Roger Bates, a man in his late 70s, went into the corn silo to try to dislodge some of the frozen feed. Instead he fell in but it was the actions of his grandson that probably saved his life.
"He went in and the corn went out underneath of him and he basically got buried up to his chin," says Wayne Bates, victim's nephew.
Roger Bates' grandson saw him struggling and jumped into action.
"At the beginning keeping the corn away and getting it away from his chest so he could breath and the grandson was smart enough to call 9-1-1 immediately," says Wayne Bates.
Fire fighters say that made the difference. According to Rockford Division Chief Matthew Knott most of the deaths he sees aren't necessarily from the person who falls into the grain but the would-be rescuer. Studies show nearly 74-percent of grain bin accidents end in death.
Despite the quick call for help it did not make the rescue any faster. It took 5 long hours in a cold silo where crews hand shoveled the feed away from bates.
"We put a sleeve around him, secure him in place. We put a harness on him and work to remove the grain and lift him up and out," says Knott.
After being hoisted to the top, Bates climbed out of the silo and walked to a waiting ambulance.
"This is a rare out-case and aren't we fortunate. And thank the Lord," says Wayne Bates.
Crews from as far away as Janesville, Whitewater and North Boone were called out to the southwest Rockton farm. They are all part of the technical response team which specially train for accidents like this.
Bates was taken to Rockford Memorial Hospital after he was freed. He is in good condition.
The man has been freed from the grain bin and walked to a waiting ambulance on his own.
Rebecca Klopf will have a full report on 13 News at 5 & 6.
The REACT helicopter has been sent away. Officials say the man is doing well and will be sent to a hospital via ambulance, if needed.
Crews responded to the Shirland Farm Center just before 9:00 a.m. Friday for a man trapped in a grain bin.
Several departments responded, including the Rockford Fire Department, Winnebago County Sheriff's Department, and crews from Boone County, Rockton, and Roscoe. Rockford Memorial's REACT helicopter was also on the scene.
Officials say the 73-year-old man was still alive as of 10:30 a.m. but the rescue is expected to take another two hours. The man told officials he had no serious complaints, but was just a little cold. We have a crew on the scene and will update you as the situation develops.
Bates Road is currently closed and blocked by the helicopter.
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