Manure pits on farms can be extremely dangerous with the death of 15-year-old Jonas King this weekend being the seventh person in one Pennsylvania county to lose their lives after falling or jumping into one of these pits since 1989. King was on his family farm in Leacock Township operating a skid loader when it flipped into the manure pit.
According to ABC News on Aug. 9, the skid loader dumped King into the pit and he became submerged. It took the emergency rescue crews more than an hour to pull the teen out of the pit, pronouncing King dead on the scene. The coroner’s report lists asphyxia as cause of death for the teen.
The teen fell into the pit and the loader fell on top of him, trapping him in the manure on this farm in Intercourse. The pit was about four-feet-deep, according to Yahoo News this weekend. The teen was buckled to his seat in the loader and could not escape in time.
This is one of the dangers on many of the livestock farms in rural America, a danger that not too many people are aware of, other than farm workers. The manure pits are used to store the waste of farm animals. According to CDC. gov, manure pits are primarily found on livestock farms, including dairy farms.
A manure pit can generate four hazardous gases as the manure goes through a natural anaerobic digestive fermentation to form fertilizer. Methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and ammonia, are the four gases that can be found in these pits due to this natural process.
The CDC issued a warning about these manure pits over two decades ago, in which 16 asphyxiation deaths occurred in a five year period from 1980 to 1985. The deaths occurred in nine separate incidents with five of the incidents involving multiple deaths.
The multiple deaths usually involve the original victim who falls into the manure pit and then their rescuers who go in after them without the proper protective gear. It was back in 1990 when the CDC released the warning booklet after the large number of workers died along with their rescuers through the 1980s. This is still occurring today on the farms across the nation
The Lancaster Online reports that a dairy farmer who tumbled into an enclosed manure pit in 2013 was killed by the gases that had formed in the pit. In 2012, a farmer and his two sons were found dead in an open-air manure pit. Most likely one had fallen in and the other two tried to rescue him.