CREEKSIDE (KDKA) -- Silos are a familiar sight on farms. Accidents involving silos are rare, but when they do happen they can be deadly.
Thursday afternoon rescuers converged on Spence's Roundtop Farm on Midd Road in Creekside. Gerry Spence was in big trouble.
The farmer, in his 50's, had fallen into his corn silo. He was trapped and sinking.
"Assessed the situation and he was up to his neck in corn," says Crosscreek Volunteer Firefighter Cory Hitchings.
"And the air quality in it was what concerned me the most," says Chief Pete Yacovone.
The danger in silo accidents comes from gases produced by fermentation which chokes off the oxygen.
Firefighter Cory Hitchings and brother, Cody, were atop the 25-foot grain bin. Cory climbed inside.
"I started shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling and I got him down to about his belt," Hitchings said.
But when he tried to pull Spence out, more grain went back in.
"Because they're all gravity fed and every move you make it just sucks more down in," Hitchings explained.
With his brother handing him tools and water, Cory laid planks in a box around Spence to prevent himself from sinking too.
"He was pretty worked up. He was pretty mad at himself for what he did," Hitchings continued.
Gerry Spence stayed conscious and alert, but was becoming half numb. Paramedics started an IV and gave him oxygen.
Cory and Cody Hitchings were with him for three hours until rescuers strapped Spence into a basket and angled it through the silo's hatch.
"He said he was okay. Just said his leg was asleep and his hips kinda hurt," Hitchings said.
"It did everybody proud out there," says Chief Yacovone. "They felt really good about themselves."
Gerry Spence may not have realized it yet, but he's very fortunate to have lived to see this Friday the 13th.
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