- Three brothers - Gary, Todd, and Brad Wuebker - were fixing a pipe in a manure pit in Ohio in the US.
- First responders found the brothers unconscious in the pit. All three men died at local hospitals.
- Manure pits, used on livestock farms to contain large amounts of animal waste for fertilizer, are known to produce toxic fumes.
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Three brothers working on a farm in Ohio died after passing out in a manure pit from fumes.
Local news site Hometown Stations first reported that the three men - Gary, Todd, and Brad Wuebker - were fixing a pump inside a manure storage pit at their family's livestock farm in the village of St. Henry in Mercer County.
First responders received a call on Tuesday, August 10, saying that three people were stuck inside a manure pit. The three men were unconscious when firefighters removed them from the pit with ropes and ladders, reported the Kansas City Star.
According to the Mercer County Outlook, several squads, including a dive team and an air ambulance, were on-site to help get the brothers out of the pit.
The brothers died the same day. Brad Wuebker, 35, passed away at the Fort Wayne Lutheran Hospital, while his brothers Gary, 37, and Todd, 31, died at the Mercer Health Hospital in Coldwater Village. A report by Cleveland Fox affiliate Fox 8 News cited a preliminary autopsy for Gary and Todd Wuebker, which noted their cause of death as asphyxiation during a farm accident.
Agricultural safety is an issue in the US that concerns some 2.4 million farmworkers. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 416 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injuries in 2017.
In particular, manure pits, which are used to store waste for field fertilizer on large livestock farms, are known to be a source of toxic fumes. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database, this is because of the large amounts of methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide that build up within.
"Nationwide data shows that most deaths occur during the summer months, a time when many producers are emptying pits," warned the NASD on its website. The NASD also noted that these pits could be "unpredictable" because of varying factors like the stage of manure decomposition and wind conditions.
"Always treat a pit as if it is a death trap and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others if entry is necessary," read the NASD's warning.