Indianapolis, Indiana:

Indianapolis Fire Department   

Saturday September 11, 2021

Working Silo Victim Recovery
1102 W 18th St
Dispatched at 12:31 PM
Bunge Contractors
Silo – filled with soy beans
Report of a male stuck in soy bean product inside silo
22 IFD Units Dispatched
A total of 30 units Dispatched
Collapse Rescue Tactical Team and Rope Rescue Tac Team 7 & 14
First Unit on scene – BCF01 at 12:36 PM
Incident Commander – Battalion Chief Scott Olofson

Male Victim, (32) reported to be inside silo – non responsive
Victim confirmed in Silo at 1:06 PM– about 100 feet down – trapped in soy bean product

Silo Utilities Secured – Lock out Tag out at 1:11 PM
Command Requests ERS Vac Truck at
Bunge Mgmt. Requests additional Vac Trucks – SET Environmental and SSI Services
IFD Command requests Hendricks County Confined Space Team at 12:53 PM

Air monitoring inside of silo shows an oxygen deficient atmosphere – SBCA required
Rescuer 1 (IFD) entered 18 x 18 inch access hole at 2:15 PM
Rescuer makes victim contact at 2:21 PM
Assessment found victim to be non-viable at 2:26 PM

Rescuer 2 (IFD) entered hole at 2:28 PM
Oxygen levels remained deficient duration of the operation – SCBA required – no other gases found

Rescuers report that the victim is on a 30 degree slope, near the rear of the silo, about 4 feet up from the bottom.
The silo is 112 feet tall and is 40 foot in diameter
When full, the silo holds approximately 80,000 – 90,000 bushel – today it was at approximately 25,000 bushel

IFD Command requests Hancock County Collapse Rescue at 5:56 PM (Sugar Creek FD and Greenfield FD)
In all 12 rescuers entered the silo to mitigate the rescue.  8 IFD, 4 Hancock County.
Each of the rescuers entered the hole in teams of 2 and worked a 40 minute rotation. Several of the rescuer teams entered twice.
All rescuers and personnel who entered the silo structure, in any capacity, were required to undergo a medical checkout by IEMS upon exiting the structure per IFD command

Victim freed from soy bean product at 10:37 PM
Packaged in stokes basket and brought outside 10:48 PM
IMPD Homicide on scene – per standard protocol
Victim released to the Marion County Coroner’s office
Indianapolis Fire Buffs on Scene for Rehab Support
Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation provided Food for the Crews and all agencies on scene

A tragic turn of events for a 32 year old man, who was recovered from a silo, after a 10 hour full scale effort, by multiple fire department agencies. The Indianapolis Fire Department was dispatched to Bunge Contractors for a possible trapped worker inside an soy bean silo.  Upon arrival it was confirmed that the man – the victim (32) was indeed trapped in soy bean product and non-responsive.   With input from onsite Bunge personnel, plans were established.  For rescuers, the constant shift of the soy bean product became the biggest obstacle and rescuers reported that every time progress was made in removing it from around the victim, it would slide back down and put them back to square one.  Every attempt to stabilize the area around the victim, his position on a slope and near the wall, proved to be extremely frustrating for crews valiantly trying to remove him.  Additional resources were requested.  Among them, Hancock County Collapse Rescue (Sugar Creek FD and Greenfield FD) and Hendricks County Confined Space.

The circumstances surrounding the victims accident will be part of the investigation already underway by Bunge contractors. The victim has been and employee of the company for 2 years.  Bunge is an oil seed processing plant that stores soy beans and mainly provides them to a processing plant in Morristown.

IFD Tac Teams 7 & 14 utilized a high angle rope system including a main, belay and osha line for each of the 12 rescuers.  The OSHA line is used for accountability.   Rescuers faced many obstacles while trying to extricate the victim from the soy bean product, one of which was an unstable work platform. The constant shift of the product, the fact that he was on a slope and near the rear wall of the silo made for difficult working conditions at best.  Each time they tried to build a working platform with 2×4’s or stabilize the victim with shoring (grain kits), the surface would shift and cave in on what they had just built.  Despite some frustration, rescuers stabilized and re-stabilized, the position Mr. Tyler was in and used the Vac Truck to remove the soy bean product from around him.  This labor intensive effort continued throughout the 10 hour operation.  Removal of product was necessary before successful removal from the silo could occur. In the end, it was a combination of the use of the vacuum truck and the coordinated effort by all agencies on scene, that finally got the job done.

Credit: Rita L Reith, MPIO