February 12, 2014 |

Napoleon, N.D., Farmer Dies in Grain Engulfment Accident

Corn broke loose from a grain bin he was unloading

Feb. 11--A 39-year-old Napoleon farmer was killed Monday afternoon after corn broke loose from a grain bin he was unloading and covered him.

Steve Engelhardt, Logan County chief deputy sheriff and coroner, said Charles Sperle died in the yard of his farm 4 1/2 miles southeast of Napoleon.

Engelhardt said Sperle hired two area truckers to haul corn from a 30,000-bushel bin and was unloading the corn with a grain vacuum.

Engelhardt said the bin was full and the door was open as Sperle unloaded the corn.

He said as the corn was being vacuumed from the bin, a funnel formed and when it reached a certain level, broke loose and came flooding out of the door.

Engelhardt said one of the truck drivers tried to pull Sperle out by an arm but was unable to budge him.

A 911 call was made at 2:50 p.m. and members of the Napoleon Fire Department, ambulance service and Logan County Sheriff's Department responded.

Engelhardt said at one point there were about 20 people working with shovels in an attempt to free Sperle.

"The corn was still coming out when we got there," he said. "It was coming out like a waterfall."

Engelhardt estimated Sperle was covered with the corn between 20 and 25 minutes before responders were able to get to him.

The accident remains under investigation by the Logan County Sheriff's Department and funeral arrangements are pending with Dahlstrom Funeral Home of Napoleon.

Copyright 2014 - The Bismarck Tribune, N.D.

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