Health Plus: Fairbank farmer's arm trapped in auger - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Fairbank farmer's arm trapped in auger


We often report on farm accidents, but never hear from the victims who survived.

In Health Plus, the story of a Fairbank farmer who was trapped in an auger yelling for help.

David Wheeler is glad his wife nagged him last fall about wearing his wedding band.

"The auger was trying to crush my wedding ring and it could not cut it," he said.

The Fairbank couple have been married 18 years.

David's been farming for nearly 30.

In September last year, three decades of experience couldn't help him when he slipped in a grain bin he was cleaning near Readlyn.

His left hand was sucked in the auger he was starting.

"I caught my foot in the doorway. As I fell to the ground, my arm went right in the auger," he said.

The 45-year-old used his right hand to actually stop the auger.

"After a few minutes, I could smell the rubber and I knew I was going to win the battle."

His wedding band kept the blades from slicing through his hand completely.

"Guess it was a good thing he was wearing it. Most of the time they say farmers don't wear your wedding ring 'cause you could cut your finger off," said his wife, Jeanne.

It was a woman who stepped out of a nearby farm house and heard his cries for help who called rescuers.

Freeing David from the machine was something no one was totally sure how to do.

It took 2 hours.

"We ended up using all different kinds of equipment between the jaws and torch./we finally got through it," Jimmy Hyde, Readlyn Fire Chief.

Amazingly, surgeons at Mayo Clinic were able to save his hand and arm.

His recovery continues at Covenant Wellness and Rehabilitation in Waterloo.

"There's no question that God was at work. A lot of prayers were answered," he said. 

The father of three says he promised his family he won't start any more augers alone.

Next week in Health Plus, more about David's recovery and the therapist he's spent hours with to regain the use of his hand.

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