CLARK COUNTY, Ill. (WAWV/WTWO) — Jason Sluder was rescued from a grain bin on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, and lives to tell his story.
Jason Sluder has worked at Littlejohn Grain Inc. for the past five years, and part of his job includes cleaning out grain bins.
What started as a typical day at work of cleaning out the bins, quickly turned into a rescue mission.
Sluder was in the bin cleaning when he came across a large clump of beans, causing a plug.
To break through the clumps, Sluder was walking on the beans.
“We were just trying to get a plug undone and I went in trying to get the plug undone and it just sucked me down in it,” Sluder said. “Thank God I had somebody at the door watching,” Sluder added.
He mentioned that there were no augers, or any other equipment turned on or running when he was trapped.
“We’ve got sump holes where the beans fall into. I was right in front of one of those whenever it broke free, it just filled the auger up and sunk me to the floor,” Sluder said.
As soon as the beans reached Sluder’s knees, he knew he was in trouble.
“It doesn’t take long,” Sluder said. “It was up to my upper thighs in a matter of seconds,” he explained.
Fortunately, he had two additional sets of eyes that day. One co-worker was inside the bin with him and was stationed by the door and another was outside, keeping watch on that door.
“He (the co-worker inside the bin) was actually looking at me and I told him, I said, ‘get the boss,'” Sluder said.
His co-worker remained in the bin with him until first responders arrived and took over life-saving measures.
Sluder remained calm, even as he was feeling excruciating pain in his legs.
Thinking back to everyone’s reactions Sluder chuckled, “everyone was panicking, except for me, mainly. Because I was trying to stay calm,” he noted.
Sluder explained that staying calm was a key to his survival, “you’ve got to stay calm in situations like that, if not, it turns bad.”
Sluder was surrounded by rescue tubes from all responding units. He aided rescuers by holding on to the head of a grain vac to keep its suction to remove the beans from around him.
After about five hours of entrapment, Sluder was successfully removed from the grain bin. He credits the quick response of his co-workers and the first responders with saving his life. He said 90 percent of his large family was present when he was pulled from the bin.
“I’m grateful for all of them. My co-workers, the first responders, the flight crew, just all of them. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.