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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Horrifying Incident in a Grain Elevator

WOODLAND, Calif. (CN) - A man was buried alive in grain for five hours while unloading grain from a silo, he claims in court.

Hector Sanchez sued Adams Grain Company and the Adams Group, in Yolo County Superior Court.

Sanchez was an employee of nonparty T & T Marketing Services, which was providing labor services to Adams Grain and Adams Group when the accident happened, according to the 14-page lawsuit.

Sanchez "was instructed to enter the grain silo and help empty grain from the silo, using large paddles and a mechanical auger to push the grain towards an opening in the bottom of the silo. Plaintiff was inside the silo, standing on top of the grain, when the floor hatch was opened and a conveyor belt used to transport the falling grain was turned on. As a result, plaintiff sank, became engulfed by the grain, and was crushed by the weight of the grain, with his legs and torso pinned against the auger and auger motor," the complaint states.

"At one point plaintiff was engulfed by grain up to his mouth, but was able to breathe because a co-worker was continuously paddling the grain away from his face."

Sanchez claims that Adams staff waited an hour after learning he was trapped before calling for emergency help.

Sanchez should have been given a safety harness and better training, a warning alarm should have let him know the floor hatch was open, and the floor hatch shouldn't have been opened without someone warning him, he says in the lawsuit.

Sanchez blames Adams Grain and Adams Group for hiring nonparty facility manager Bill Kelly, who "was unfit and incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired. Defendants knew or should have known that Bill Kelly was unfit and incompetent and that his unfitness and incompetence created a particular risk to others," the complaint states.

Sanchez suffered injuries to his "arms, legs, lower extremities, neck, head, shoulders, back, abdomen, torso, vision and respiratory system," and couldn't walk for two months after the accident, according to the complaint.

He still cannot work and suffers from "chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, paranoia, claustrophobia, flashbacks, hallucinations and trouble sleeping."

He seeks damages and punitive damages for negligence, negligent supervision and retention, premises liability, negligent exercise of retained control, product liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Mary-Alice Coleman, Enriqueta Rico and Michael S. Ahmad of Davis.

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