Marvin Manske is used to being knee-deep in a grain bin. But not chest-deep and unable to move.
The Ceresco man, who was rescued near Louisville, Nebraska, after being stuck in corn up to his chest in a grain bin, said he regrets filling the grain bin so full, which caused the grain to mold and jam the auger below.
Manske, 76, was stuck for about four hours Monday night in a 95-degree, smelly, dusty bin while volunteer fire crews from Plattsmouth, Manley and Louisville helped him get out.
“You don’t worry about it, because you’re never going to get to here,” Manske said as he pointed to his nose. He said he knew the rescuers would get him out before the corn was so high he couldn’t breathe. “They’re going to stop you before you get that far.”
Manske was working to unload the grain from the bin with his son and his daughter-in-law. The auger to unload the bin got stuck, so they had to use a pole from above to free the opening.
Manske was less than knee-deep in the grain when someone at the bottom tried the auger again, freeing grain but slowly trapping him at his waist.
He couldn’t budge. His legs were getting numb.
After attempts by his son and daughter-in-law to free him were unsuccessful — they even tried using a chain on the roof to pull him out — Manske told his son to call the fire department. At one point, he had sunk to his armpits.
Workers placed a rescue tube around Manske and fitted him with a safety harness. It was the first time that the responders had used the rescue tube, which prevented corn from sliding and burying Manske.
But Manske had to work to help free himself. He took cupfuls of corn around him and handed them to rescuers, who dumped the corn elsewhere.
“It was quite a slow process,’’ said Jason McClun, the chief of the Louisville Volunteer Fire Department.
From 1964 to 2013, 83 grain entrapments were reported in Nebraska. Nationally, there were 1,020 during that period, according to a 2013 report prepared by Purdue University. But many cases can go unreported on private farms.
Manske was in good condition Tuesday night, when he was moved from intensive care. Doctors were checking on his insulin levels for his diabetes, but he was otherwise uninjured.
Manske, who teared up slightly at times while speaking, said he was grateful for all the help from rescuers, doctors and nurses.
Manske said he wasn’t too worried once the fire department arrived, but it was still a tedious process.
“It makes you wonder, am I going to get out of here?” he said.
Manske’s family and friends waited near the bin until he was freed, including his 10-year-old grandson, who stayed up past his 9 p.m. bedtime.
A trauma surgeon who works at Creighton saw the first responder flashing lights on his way home near the grain bin, and he decided to stop and help.
Dr. Michel Wagner said there’s a chance that the grain bin could have exploded — grain dust is highly combustible — and crews were standing by to wet the corn if needed.
Sharon Peterson, a friend of Manske’s, said the incident “was a scare” and she’s glad Manske is doing well.
“We would like to thank everybody that helped,” she said. “And also everyone who was praying for him.”
World-Herald staff writer Jay Withrow contributed to this report.
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