UPDATE: Atmospheric conditions caused Waverly grain bin deaths - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Atmospheric conditions caused Waverly grain bin deaths

Posted: Updated:
Adam Schneider and his wife Adam Schneider and his wife
Rick Schneider and his wife Rick Schneider and his wife

A Schneider family member tells KWWL that a father and son died in Thursday's grain bin accident at the Schneider Milling operation on Bremer Avenue in Waverly.

The victims are Rick Schneider and his son, Adam Schneider.

Waverly Fire Chief Dennis Happel said the cause of death for both men is due to atmospheric conditions, and they died from a lack of oxygen. The toxicology report is not yet back from the state medical examiner, so exactly what happened and why hasn't been determined.

On Thursday, Waverly area rescue crews pulled the father and son out of 8 to 10 feet of corn inside the grain bin.

The Kaiser Corson Funeral Home confirms services are pending for Rick and Adam Schneider. 

Both father and son worked at the well-known Schneider's Milling facility, a company owned by Rick's father and Adam's grandfather, Gary Schneider. A neighbor told KWWL that Gary Schneider was in Florida at the time of the family's tragedy.

The Iowa State Patrol told KWWL that the call originally came in just after 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon and that two men were trapped in one of the grain bins.

Sources tell KWWL that the Schneiders had gone inside the bin to check on the status of a small corn fire, which had occurred inside the bin Wednesday. They said they wanted to make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

Once inside, something went wrong, and the father and son were suddenly trapped in several feet of corn kernels. 

Waverly Fire Chief Dennis Happel and his rescue crews were able to get Rick and Adam out of the bin and the men were transported to the nearby Waverly Medical Center.

Sources said Adam Schneider's wife is expecting their second child.

OSHA will lead an investigation into the Schneider Milling accident. 

Waverly Fire, Waverly Police, Waverly Ambulance, Bremer County Sheriff's Office, Iowa State Patrol and an air ambulance all responded to the scene.

Schneider Milling is located at 3601 E. Bremer Avenue in Waverly.

Grain bin accidents remain a serious concern in Iowa and across the nation, with 2010 being the worst year on record in the United States for grain bin entrapments at 57 deaths.

Dan Neenan of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Peosta says it's harder to keep track of those who survive grain entrapments. Corporations are required to report accidents, but family farms are not.

According to a Darrell Boone article in The Farmers Exchange in September, 2012, farm accidents are decreasing, but grain bin entrapments are not.

"The typical human body is about two bushels in size," said Bill Field of Purdue University in Boone's article. "Today we have bins that can unload from 1,200 to 2,000 bushels per hour, and it only takes a few seconds for a human body to be pulled into moving grain flow and become completely engulfed."

Field said the second-most common type of entrapment occurs when grain goes out of condition and crusts together or gets hung up. He said it's not uncommon for thousands of pounds of corn to get stuck to the side of the bin wall, and farmers can be injured by either the huge falling chunks or be entrapped by them.

According to Field, statistics show that the two groups of farm workers most likely to be injured or killed in grain bins are 13- to 17-year-olds as well as farmers over 55.

"In the younger group there tends to be an attitude of, 'I'm invincible,'" Field said. "And with the older group, it's more of an attitude of complacency — 'I've been in grain bins all my life, it can't happen to me.'"

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