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Joint funeral planned for 3 family members killed in western Minnesota silo accident

A joint funeral service for three members of a Millerville Township family who died after accidentally inhaling toxic silo fumes will be held Tuesday in Millerville, Minn.

The tragic farm accident claimed its third life Friday night when 11-year-old Alex Boesl died at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, six days after he, his father and uncle inhaled the gases Dec. 21 inside a grain silo on their family farm.

Alex’s father, Curt Boesl, 47, and uncle, Steven Boesl, 49, died earlier.

Alex’s aunt, Amy Revering, wrote Friday evening on his CaringBridge site that Alex “danced his way into Heaven at 5:19 p.m.” as one of his favorite songs — “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten — began to play from his phone.

On Thursday night, the family had been told after Alex was taken off sedation that he could not survive. Revering wrote then that the miracle the family had hoped for might instead become one for others through organ donation: “Alex’s Christmas miracle is giving life to others.”

Alex and his father were working in the top of the silo when they were overcome by the fumes, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Another son noticed the two were down and called 911; he also called his uncle, who lived nearby and who, upon arrival, climbed into the silo to try to save his brother and nephew. Steven Boesl was then himself overcome and died at the scene. Curt Boesl died Sunday morning.

A funeral service for all three will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Seven Dolors Catholic Church in Millerville, with visitation starting at 10 a.m. at the church.

Visitations also will be held Monday at the church on the following schedule:

• For Alex and Curt, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a prayer service at 2 p.m.

• For Steven, 3:30 to 8 p.m., with a prayer service at 8 p.m.

Family members say that in lieu of flowers, they plan to plant trees in memory of the three.

A community grieves

Silos can fill with carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, gases created by the fermentation of silage, which is fodder for cattle and sheep.

Fifteen farmworkers died in grain bin accidents last year, according to data analyzed by Purdue University, with most silo deaths involving people who asphyxiate or are crushed by falling grain.

Community members in Millerville, a Douglas County town of about 100 residents, have rallied around the Boesl families as they mourn for the brothers and now Alex. A GoFundMe account set up to be split between the two families had raised about $103,100 by Sunday night.

“They were involved in so many things and so many people knew them,” said Millerville Fire Chief Rodney Roers. Curt Boesl was his assistant chief and Steven Boesl had served with the Fire Department for more than 20 years but had retired from the work.

“The community is very shook,” Roers added. “I don’t know if anybody has experienced anything like this. It’s something so unexpected, and it affected so many families. Especially when you have a child involved, it is so hard to take and understand.”


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