UPDATE: 11:38 p.m. Friday


An attempt to rescue a man from a grain bin at a Milton ethanol facility turned into a daylong operation Friday.

A 28-year-old man was working with another employee in one of three cone-topped grain bins at United Ethanol, 1250 Chicago St., when he went missing just after 10 a.m., Milton police Lt. John Conger said.

At 10:45 p.m. Friday, the man had still not been found, Conger said.

The man fell into a grain bin approximately five stories high that contained more than 140,000 bushels of corn.

Police were talking with the other employee Friday afternoon to find out how the man became trapped, Conger said.

“They were supposed to be in that silo, but obviously something went wrong, and that’s what we’re trying to determine,” Conger said.

Rescue squads from Whitewater, Edgerton, Janesville, Beloit and a number of other departments, as well as State Line Technical Rescue workers, were on the scene assisting in the effort.

Besides dealing with the danger of becoming trapped in the grain, rescuers had to rotate out because of gasses in the bin, Conger said.

At a media briefing outside the facility around noon, Milton Police Chief Dan Layber said he did not know how much corn was in the bin but it was “fairly deep” and making recovery efforts difficult.

“The grain is constantly moving around,” Layber said. “It's a tough process.”

In an effort to find the man, crews drained some of the corn, Layber said.

At about 1:30 p.m., what appeared to be grain began pouring from the side of the bin, forming a pile at the base. As the grain accumulated, crews used an end loader to move it away.

It was still pouring from the bin 90 minutes later, Conger said.

“That tells you how much is actually in there,” he said.

Rock County sheriff's deputies blocked access to the plant, which sits between County M, Highway 59 and Chicago Street, east of downtown Milton.

News media observed the scene from a checkpoint about 300 yards from the grain bins.

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