By Joshua Rhett Miller
Three brothers in western Ohio died after getting trapped in a manure pit as they worked on a pump at their livestock farm, authorities said.
Brad Wuebker, 35, Todd Wuebker, 31, and Gary Wuebker, 37, died Tuesday at hospitals after rescue crews responded to their family farm in St. Henry and found them under water in the pit and requested a dive team, WHIO reported.
“My son passed out,” a woman told dispatchers. “He was doing something with the pit.”
Moments later, a second caller requested more help, saying, “I’ve got all three boys down in the pit.”
The Wuebkers were extracted from the manure pit about 20 minutes after the initial 911 call was received at 12:30 p.m. Details of how the men fell into the pit or how long they were stuck were not immediately clear, WDTN reported.
Gary and Todd Wuebker were pronounced dead at a hospital in Coldwater, Ohio, while Brad Wuebker died at a hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The three brothers were “full-time” farmers who owned and operated GBT Wuebker Farms LLC with their father, according to their obituaries.
Preliminary autopsies showed they died from asphyxiation secondary to a farm accident, WDTN reported.
St. Henry Fire Department Chief Matt Lefeld told the Daily Standard the men were pulled from the pit unconscious after performing maintenance on a manure pump.
Manure pits can produce dangerous gases like hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia, which can lead to nausea, headache and dizziness at lower levels and labored breathing and death at higher exposures, the newspaper reported, citing Ohio State University.
Mass for the Wuebker family was held Wednesday at St. Henry Catholic Church, officials said.
“Brad, Gary and Todd Wuebker lost their lives doing what they loved – working on the family farm,” a Facebook post by locally owned farm co-op Mercer Landmark read. “Brad and Gary were members of our team and had a work ethic like no other.”
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