A North Dakota man is lucky to be alive after getting trapped inside a grain bin for over an hour.
It all happened Sunday afternoon in Lankin, with the man submerged in over 15 thousand bushels of corn.
“Every minute’s crucial,” Terry Novak, a member of the Lankin Volunteer Fire Department said.
In a race against the clock dozens of area first responders rushed to the Lankin farmstead, while Novak went down the road for his backhoe to tear the bin open.
“When that first flush came out, I was just praying that he would come sliding out. Obviously that didn’t happen. So, we had to go in and dig more,” he said.
While Novak dug with the backhoe, the rest shoveled their way through the bin. But as minutes turned into an hour, Novak said the grim thought of their rescue becoming a recovery flooded into the back of everyone’s mind.
“But nobody gave up,” Novak said.
Rescuers finally came upon the man just before two that afternoon, still alive after breathing through his teeth for most of his time trapped inside.
“Once they found him it was still crucial too because there was still corn that could come down and bury him a second time. So, it was so intense through the whole thing,” Novak said.
As medics carried the man out on a stretcher, Novak says he vividly remembers the somber quiet that fell on the farmstead as everyone finally breathed a sigh of relief for the first time.
“I wanted to stand up out of the backhoe and just cheer,” Novak said.
Novak says the man only suffered a dislocated shoulder and is doing well.
“Of all of us being so emotional and everything, he is such a cool, calm person. Maybe that helped him. We were active and everybody was moving, but he had to slow himself down. He had to bring his peace of mind being buried,” he said.
And although it’s been well over 48 hours, Novak says the day and the ‘what ifs’ haven’t yet left his mind.
“Everything just worked out. You think of things you could have done, but for some reason everything worked out. “Don’t give up. That was over an hour. Don’t give up,” Novak said.