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|11-19-02: Local farmer dies in accident
|By MARGIE WUEBKER
The Daily Standard
YORKSHIRE - A 36-year-old Darke County man apparently suffocated
Monday despite heroic attempts to rescue him from the cab of a tractor that slid
into a manure lagoon at the dairy farm his family owns and operates.
Scott Winner, 12620 Willowdell Road, Versailles, was pronounced dead on
arrival at 11:31 a.m. at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where he had been taken aboard a
CareFlight helicopter ambulance.
The accident occurred around 10 a.m. at J & N Farms, 14171
Willowdell Road, as Winner was repositioning a tractor and attached agitator equipment,
according to Darke County Sheriff's Office reports. The process is repeated frequently as
the 4-million gallon lagoon is drained.
The tractor and agitator sank quickly beneath the surface, leaving only six
inches of the cab visible. Five to six feet of manure already had been pumped from the 13-
to 14-foot pit. Bryan Winner, the youngest of four brothers involved in the farm
operation, looked toward the pit around 10 a.m. and did not see the John Deere 4650
tractor his brother had been operating. He initially assumed the vehicle had been driven
to the fuel tanks but decided to check anyway. The sight of a patch of green roof sent him
running for help.
Brothers Randy and Dale Winner quickly responded. Tethered to a rope,
Dale Winner entered the lagoon and swam in the direction of the tractor.
"Scott was screaming for help," his mother Norma Winner told
The Daily Standard this morning. "At one point, he flipped on the emergency flashers
to let his brothers know he was alive. Then his screams stopped."
Employees of the farm operation also assisted in the futile rescue
effort. In response to a 911 call, the Osgood Fire Department, Fort Loramie Fire
Department and Osgood Rescue Squad were dispatched to the scene southeast of Osgood at
Osgood Fire Chief Frank Miller described the rescue effort as
"We tried so hard to get Scott out," Miller said. "You
always fear the worst but hope for the best."
Several local firefighters reportedly dove into the lagoon without the
benefit of protective wet suits and attempted to pull open the door. The force of the
manure pushing against the cab made that impossible, according to Miller.
The fire chief described the lagoon as containing about a foot of cold
water at the top. Solids settled out into a thick mixture below.
Local firefighter Gary Poeppelman, who owns and operates G & L
Sales, brought his crane to the scene. He used it to swing Osgood and Fort Loramie
firefighters closer to the scene. Working together, they finally got the door open and
brought out Scott Winner's body. Twenty-nine minutes had elapsed since their arrival.
The body was lifted into a boat owned by the Fort Loramie department
and taken approximately 20 feet to shore, where CareFlight personnel took over. CPR
continued as the stretcher was loaded onto the helicopter.
"I didn't think there was any hope at that point," Bryan
Winner said in a voice laced with emotion. "Scott had been down there a long
Bryan Winner said he believes the tractor was in the lagoon for about
10 minutes before it was found.
He believes an equalization in pressure led to the door's eventual
opening. The back window of the cab had been open to allow the driver to reach through and
operate the hydraulic control. However, there was not enough room for him to escape as
manure seeped into the cab.
Scott Winner's wife, Janel, and his mother arrived at the farm after
CareFlight departed. They were driven to the Dayton hospital by a family friend.
A doctor delivered the bad news in a quiet area away from the busy
emergency department waiting room.
The tractor remains in the lagoon. Current plans call for the pit to be
drained over the course of three days before it is pulled out.
Scott Winner, described by relatives and friends as a caring man
willing to help his fellow man, continued the trait even in death.
"We were able to donate his skin, his eyes and his leg
bones," Norma Winner said tearfully. "They told us at the hospital that 11
people will benefit from his gift."
The four brothers worked together to make the farm and 600-cow dairy
operation successful. Scott Winner, the second oldest, had charge of field operations.
Four chairs in Norma Winner's garage mark their customary morning gathering place. After
discussing plans for the day, they headed outside.
"Scott had so much knowledge when it came to that part of the
business," Bryan Winner said. "I don't know what we're going to do without
This is not the first time tragedy has visited the Winners. Jack
Winner, the father, died 17 years ago of leukemia, leaving the farm and a new milking
parlor he never had an opportunity to use.
The four boys, who ranged in age from 6 to 19 when their father died,
vowed to continue his dream, and they achieved their goal through hard work. They believe
their father would be proud of the operation which became one of the largest in the area.
The family had worked 1,800 acres before scaling the acreage back to
about 800 recently.
"The boys decided they wanted to have more time to spend with
their families," Norma Winner said. "Scott was looking forward to doing a lot
more camping with his family next year. That won't happen now."
The tall man with a ready smile eagerly followed the soccer games of
his daughter, Tara, a fifth-grader, and his son, Chad, a second-grader. Hayley, who will
turn 6 soon, often accompanied her father in the tractor. Luckily, that was not the case
"Scott liked to have a good time," Norma Winner adds.
"He worked as hard as he partied."
Funeral arrangements are pending at Hogenkamp Funeral Home in Minster.
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