Crews recover body of missing worker at Wilcox Farms, secure toppled silo

Staff writerDecember 4, 2013 

Crews late Wednesday recovered the body of a man buried earlier this week under an avalanche of grain at a Roy feed mill.

The body of Steven Green, 44, was recovered from the collapsed silo about 10:30 p.m. Green was married and the father of three daughters and a son, county officials said in announcing the recovery of his body.

Green was buried under tons of corn that spilled Monday when a silo ruptured at the Wilcox Farms feed mill. He and another worker were outside the silo when the tank gave way. The other man ran to safety.

Workers on Wednesday stabilized the collapsed silo well enough to begin removing thousands of pounds of grain to recover the body.

Attempts to weld brackets to the silo so a crane could hold it in place failed Tuesday night because the metal on the silo was too thin. Engineers briefly considered wrapping a cable around the silo to steady it but rejected the idea as too dangerous.

On Wednesday, a demolition excavator was brought in with an arm that extends 125 feet. On the end of the arm was a 400 square-foot net – positioned like a giant catcher’s mitt – that was pushed against the silo to hold it in place while workers removed tons of grain.

The metal net proved too big, and crews had to remove half of it so they could wedge it between two damaged silos.

“The likelihood of that silo falling, that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” South Pierce Fire & Rescue Chief Bob Vellias said.

The grain, estimated to weigh about 100,000 pounds, pushed its way into a nearby office building.

When the collapsed silo flattened, it struck two other silos and damaged them. One silo pushed 15 feet into the office building, bending structural beams and busting water lines.

It remains unclear what caused the support system to give way.

Crews surveyed the scene from above and secured loose metal on catwalks above the silos. Once the excavator was in place, workers used a large vacuum to suck out the grain and fill two waiting trucks. The grain then was dumped into a nearby street to keep work flowing while other trucks came to pick up the grain, which might be salvageable.

A Pierce County technical-rescue team was on scene recover the body once enough grain had been removed.

Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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