Community rallies to save trapped man - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Community rallies to save trapped man

June 18, 2004

Sylvester-- A dangerous day at a South Georgia mill turns into a community rescue.

Getting grain out of a silo has never been so important. It's the only way to save the life of Vann Jeffords. "He'd gone in the grain bin to get the auger started, loading a rail car," said Phillip Lumpkin. 

Jeffords fell deep into the grain and got stuck in the middle, unable to move. "They couldn't pick him up because he was lodged under it. The grain was putting side pressure on it."

An hour and a half after the fall, friends and mill workers join emergency workers to find the fastest way to get the grain out. Jared Young said, "Every time you move grain, more's flowing right back behind it."

Moving it takes hands, muscle, and a lot of equipment. "But when I climbed up there and got to him, it was up to his waist. But when they'd move it, it would just keep trying to funnel in around him," said Lumpkin.

As time ticks by, rescuers rush to move the grain faster, as the heat in the silo continues to rise.  "You're working in about 120 degrees or better," Youg said. 

These are familiar moments for Jeffords. "When he was younger, he was in one of these bins and he'd gotten too hot," Young said. And he had a stroke.

Now, Paramedics give Jeffords oxygen and keep him hydrated with fluids through an IV. Meanwhile, volunteer rescuers start taking the silo apart, bolt by bolt, to get the grain going out of any part of the bin they can open.

Entering the third hour, the grain level is finally lower. Rescuers try again to pull him out. Finally, it works. The same hands that hadn't stopped for three hours lift him out of the silo. "I've known him for a long time. I used to come up here when I was small. And... just do anything to help him," said Young.

"They love him. He's their friend. They was looking out for him," Lumpkin said. Friends and neighbors who came to the rescue and helped save a life.

They took Vann Jeffords to Phoebe Worth Medical Center, but they won't say what his condition is right now.

updated at 9:30AM by dave.miller@walb.com

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