When a massive chunk of edible beans sheared off the wall of a grain bin on his farm near Winkler, Man., Randy Froese tried to scramble out of the way but the force of the falling beans knocked his feet out from underneath him.
When it stopped falling, Froese was completely buried under a metre of mushy, mouldy beans.
He ended up in a sitting position, his head jammed against the vertical aeration tube inside the bin. His left leg was pinned by the weight of the beans on a steel support for the aeration.
“I had enough loose matter in front of me (to breathe),” Froese said.
“At the time, I actually thought my femur was broken.”
As Eddie Fehr, a farm employee scrambled to dig him out, Froese thought about his young family.
“I was so tired, we had already been in the bin four to five hours. We’d been picking away (at the beans caked to the bin wall). But I said to myself, I have to make it out for my wife and my daughter.”
After six to seven minutes, Fehr freed Froese’s head.
Another farm employee working outside the granary entered the bin from the top and climbed down. He used his cellphone to call Froese’s dad, Jack, who was in his truck a few kilometres from the farm.
Once in the bin, Jack and the two employees continued digging but Froese’s lower leg remained wedged under the steel support.
The workers opened the hopper at the bottom of the bin to loosen the beans under Froese.
Trapped in the beans for more than 40 minutes, Froese couldn’t take it anymore.
“I just held my arms as strong as I could and I said ‘guys, pull me out now,’ ” he said.
“My dad and our worker, they grabbed underneath my arms … and they yanked me out…. There was a 15 to 18 foot section of beans (on the wall of the bin) that fell, not five seconds after.”
Froese spent 10 days in the hospital after the accident, with severe bruising and tissue damage to his legs and shoulders. He dislocated his left knee and still experiences numbness in his legs.