Very sad story from central PA, via the Altoona Mirror:

Three members of an Amish family died in a farming accident Wednesday morning.

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said Andrew Beiler, 47, and his two sons ages 14 and 19 died from asphyxiation after they were trapped inside a silo. The buildup in gases inside the silo caused their deaths, which have been ruled accidental.

Silos present a set of dangers, one of which is this threat of gas buildup. More on that in the Centre Daily Times:

Silo gas — formed by the natural fermentation of chopped silage shortly after it is placed in the silo — is not one of the leading causes of farming fatalities, but can be one of the most toxic.

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are two of the most prevalent gases found in silos. The former is colorless and odorless, while the latter has a strong bleach-like odor and can appear yellow to reddish-brown.

Andrew Beiler, 47, and his two sons, Michael said, most likely inhaled carbon dioxide.

One of Beiler’s sons was working in the silo when his father checked on him, said Michael, citing first responder reports. The eldest Beiler jumped in to help, but was overcome by the gas. His second son followed, but was also overcome. “This is often what happens with tragedies around farms where one family member or one employee will be overcome by some type of gas, and then someone else goes and tries to rescue them and they are also overcome,” Michael said. “This is how we have these multiple fatality events.”

I’ve heard of other silo-related fatalities but not one involving gas buildup, rather, accidents when individuals become trapped in grain. As noted above this article states that this type of poisoning is not one of the top causes of farm fatalities. I would assume the danger is well-known, but in the moment when someone is overcome I imagine it must be very difficult to fight the instinct to attempt to save one’s loved one. Especially if it is a young person without a lot of experience.

Just very sad for this family and hoping the feel the full embrace of their church and extended family at this time, which no doubt they will.

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