- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2016

Manure fumes are believed to have caused the deaths this week of a 29-year-old Wisconsin farmer and more than a dozen cattle, Portage County Coroner Scott Rifleman said Tuesday.

The farmer, Michael Biadasz, was found dead early Monday on his property near Amherst, Wisconsin, by colleagues who had arrived to haul away manure from a football-field-size holding tank, authorities told WAOW, a local ABC affiliate.

His passing is still under investigation, but the coroner said Tuesday that Biadasz likely died after being overcome by methane or sulfur oxide — byproducts of cow waste that can be fatal under certain conditions.

Thirteen of the farmer’s cattle were discovered dead nearby, and three more were reported dead by Wednesday, according to WAOW. Along with Biadasz, they likely were killed by a “deadly dome of air,” the coroner said.

“The family is devastated, absolutely devastated,” Portage County Coroner Scott Rifleman told the news outlet.

Unusually warm weather had likely created a “perfect storm” in the tank, the man’s father, Biadoasz Farms co-owner Bob Biadasz, told the news station.

“When he broke up that hard crust, basically the methane or sulphur dioxide came out of the manure and was sitting there because there was a heavy fog mass,” Mr. Biadasz told WAOW. “It [the gas] typically would go up in the air and dissipate.”

Instead, he said, the warm weather likely caused the toxic fumes from spreading.

“It was a matter of seconds. It was tasteless, odorless, and he was gone. Just like that,” Mr. Biadasz said.

A memorial is expected to be established in Biadoasz’s name for a farm safety program, WSAW News reported Wednesday.

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