One dead following farm methane accident

CARPENTER, Wyo. (WNE) – A 52-year-old man died and three others were exposed to methane fumes Tuesday following a workplace incident at a Carpenter dairy farm.

Laramie County Sheriff’s Department deputies were called at about 9:50 a.m. to Burnett Dairy Farm, where they found three men suffering from methane inhalation, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department. Another man, later identified as Erasmo Baeza Gonzalez, fell into a well shaft while working in a well house on the farm.

Investigators were told Gonzalez, two electrical contractors and the property owners were working in the well house Tuesday morning when Gonzalez slipped and fell into the 10- to 12-foot shaft into a pool of water.

Deputies determined toxic methane fumes likely seeped into the bottom of the shaft in water that drained off manure piles on the farm.

When Gonzalez fell, he immediately succumbed to methane fumes, became unconscious and slipped underwater, causing him to drown, according to the news release.

When two other men tried to pull Gonzalez out, they were exposed to toxic methane fumes and fell as well. A third man helped pull the two attempted rescuers out but was unable to grab Gonzalez.

The three men were transported to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center – two by ambulance and the third
by helicopter.

As of Tuesday evening, one was released from CRMC and the other two were admitted, according to Laramie County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Don Hollingshead.

The incident is also under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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