For nearly 45 minutes, Jackie Loyd’s screams for help went unheard, drowned out by the roar of an auger’s engine. Jackie was stuck waist-deep in the unrelenting grasp of nearly 8,000 bushels of corn in a grain bin.
“We had a good price for some corn, and we decided we needed to sell some,” Jackie said, recalling the events of May 22, 2019. “I might’ve been doing something I wasn’t supposed to, but I went up into the grain bin. The corn was bridged up, and I broke the dam of the corn. Then the corn came up on me, and I couldn’t get out.”
Purdue University tracks grain bin entrapments on U.S. farms. Nearly 30 entrapments are reported annually, and 65% of those cases end in death. After nearly an hour, time was ticking for the 76-year-old as he sunk deeper, up to his neck in corn.
“I had a lot of time to talk to God, and I think he answers prayers,” Jackie said.
His brother and farm partner, 80-year-old George Loyd, was the first person to hear Jackie’s screams. George jumped into action to save his brother, only to become the second victim of the corn’s unyielding clutches.
“I don’t think the corn got higher than waist-deep on me,” George said. “You don’t expect it, but you can’t move. It’s just all that pressure from the corn.”
Three fire departments responded to the emergency at Loyd Brothers Farm in Jackson County, including the Scottsboro Fire Department (SFD). In January 2019, SFD employees attended the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Grain Expo where they received grain bin rescue equipment and were trained to use it. Sponsorships from numerous agricultural groups, including the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers, covered the cost of the rescue equipment.
“When you give a donation like this, you know it may possibly be used to save someone’s life,” said Carla Hornady, director of the Alabama Wheat & Feed Grain Producers. “It’s kind of unbelievable that the donation and training happened just months before the Loyds’ accident. I think you can see the hand of God in the timing of everything.”
Along with using the grain bin rescue tube, first responders cut two holes on opposite sides of the grain bin so the corn could flow out and relieve pressure on the victims, which included the brothers and a first responder who got stuck during rescue efforts.
Thanks to the rescue equipment and training, all three were freed four hours after the ordeal started.
Numerous emergency responders required treatment for dehydration and dust inhalation, and George and Jackie were taken to a local hospital for medical care.
Within the week, the brothers were back on the farm working alongside members of their community to clean up the spilled grain, including the North Jackson High School football and baseball teams.
As they returned to their daily farm work, George and Jackie had a newfound appreciation for the hazards of farming.
“We’ve been in and around these grain bins all our lives,” George said. “But you need to practice safety. You need to use your head and not get in a situation like that.”
When accidents do happen, the brothers agree it’s important to act quickly and call in the experts.
“Get first responders as soon as you can,” Jackie said. “We waited a little too long because we kept thinking we could do it ourselves.”