- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

MOUNT CARROLL, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois appellate court has upheld a $16 million judgment awarded to the families of two people who died in a 2010 grain bin accident in northwestern Illinois.

Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. filed the appeal after a Carroll County jury awarded $8 million each to the families of 19-year-old Alejandro Pacas and 14-year-old Wyatt Whitebread.

The two co-workers were killed after they became trapped in a Mount Carroll grain elevator filled with corn more than 30 feet deep, Sauk Valley Media (https://bit.ly/1Rm5fqR ) reported.

On July 28, 2010, Pacas, Whitebread and a third co-worker, Will Piper, were tasked with moving corn down in the bin and spent a couple hours breaking up chunks of the grain because it wasn’t moving freely, according to court documents.

After a full-time employee opened up the intermediate sump pump in the floor of the bin, Whitebread fell and began sliding feet-first into the sump pump, the documents state. The grain was flowing too quickly to pull or dig Whitebread out, so Pacas and Piper grabbed him and told another co-worker to get help, Piper testified.

Pacas and Piper began to sink into the bin after the same employee who opened the sump pump turned the conveyor back on, the documents say.

Piper survived after a six-hour rescue process. But Pacas and Whitebread died of asphyxiation as a result of being engulfed in corn, a coroner determined.

Piper, who couldn’t walk until his third day in the hospital, was post-traumatic stress disorder, and a doctor noted that he also suffered from grief and survivor’s guilt.

Last year, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. was found guilty on three counts of negligence and ordered to pay $16 million total to Pacas and Whitebread’s families, as well as $875,000 to Piper.

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Information from: Dixon Telegraph, https://www.saukvalley.com

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