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Police report: Teens killed in Barry County farm accident not only ones to fall ill

9:59 AM, Aug 14, 2010   |    comments
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  • Two teens died in a silo accident at a Barry Co. farm on July 12.
  • Two teens died in a silo accident at a Barry Co. farm on July 12.

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Deputies investigating the deaths of two teenagers in a silo at a Barry County dairy farm found ammonia in the tank the boys were cleaning.

The Barry County Sheriff's Office this week released its investigative report on the July 12 accident at the Yankee Springs Dairy Farm southwest of Middleville.  The bodies of the victims -- Victor Perez, 18, and Francisco Martinez, 17, were found in a ten-foot plastic silo.

The report shows investigators detected ammonia inside the tank.  It also shows deputies looking into the accident felt tightening in their chests and reported it was difficult to breathe.  One of the deputies reportedly began coughing uncontrollably and was treated at a Barry County hospital.

On July 12, Perez and Martinez were asked by farm owner Paul Lettinga to powerwash the inside of the silo.  In the investigative report, Lettinga says the liquid substance inside the tank was 6"-8" deep, and was molasses used for cow feed.  Lettinga told deputies the substance was not harmful.

Lettinga told investigators the boys said they were too hot after cleaning one container.  The farm owner told deputies he said the teens could take turns, and that they did not have to clean the second tank.

The Boys continued to work, and their bodies were later found inside the silo.

One person at the farm the night the boys died said to deputies he too became ill r doing the same job, and told them he went to the hospital and had liquid drained from his lungs.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MiOSHA) is completing its own report, and toxicology results on the teenagers are pending.

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