A man trapped in a grain bin at Southeastern Grain Company in Clinton was the focus of a rescue effort Tuesday afternoon, in which numerous local agencies, along with Duke Life Flight and Fayetteville Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, converged on Sampson.
The man, a 35-year-old temporary contract employee with SGC, was ultimately rescued from the silo unharmed after a couple hours. The man, whose name was Jorge (his last name was not immediately available) was monitored throughout and provided water. Eugene Brown, the elevator manager at the business, said the man had a harness and rope, and had lowered himself down to the bottom of the bin to loosen some of the material to open a small door for easy access.
When he was not able to immediately do that, he got disoriented.
“There was a little more than he thought down there and it was tough to move it,” said Brown, who was supervising Jorge from a platform at the top of the bin. He called Jorge a good worker, a temporary employee who offered help at the business, located off Westover Road, sandwiched between Lowe’s and the Clinton City Schools administrative offices,
“It got so hot in there and then he got frightened,” Brown said. “He wasn’t buried in the grain or anything. I kept asking him if he was all right. He couldn’t pull himself up the rope.”
That’s when Brown called for help. Clinton Fire Chief Scott Phillips got the call at about 12:20 p.m.
“It came in as a service call,” Phillips said. “He was not injured. He just couldn’t get back out. Most of what you see here is precaution.”
That precaution came in the form of a Duke Life Flight helicopter, as well as response from Clinton, Herring and Taylors Bridge fire departments. Fayetteville’s Urban Search and Rescue personnel were also called to the scene and were in the Roseboro area when Phillips called them off. Halls Fire Department assisted in covering Clinton while the department was at SGC.
“We wanted to make sure we had additional people here,” Phillips said of the precautionary measures. “USAR was almost here too, and we appreciate everybody’s help.”
Brown said the grain was jammed at the bottom of the bin. Jorge was going down there to break it up and then make his way out.
“There was more than he thought was there,” said Brown, who expressed relief once the worker, sans shirt and covered in grain particles, emerged from a small hole emergency personnel cut in the bottom of the bin.
“The staff was making sure they kept an eye on him,” said Phillips. “Stuff could have shifted in there.”
As the helicopter flew away and rescue vehicles and fire trucks pulled onto Westover Road, Brown said it ended up being a routine situation but was very serious to him until he knew everything was fine.
“I never left that platform,” he said, pointing to the top of the silo. “It was serious until I saw him coming out of that bin.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.