Man Pulled Out of Grain Elevator in Tripoli

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

TRIPOLI, Iowa - A Fredericksburg man working in a grain elevator was rescued Tuesday morning after being sucked into a corn bin.

Curt Gitch was taken to Allen Hospital for a routine checkup after being rescued by local responders, according to Bill Figanbaum, co-owner of Figanbaum Trucking and Grain Inc. in Tripoli. He was released the same afternoon.

"What little bit I have heard, he's going to be OK ... could have been a lot worse," said Deb Strottman, co-owner of the family business.

Gitch, who is in his 50s, was sucked into the corn feet-first as temperatures soared near 100 degrees. He was able to make a phone call to Natalie Figanbaum, the company's secretary, as he was trapped.

"He was screaming to get the bins shut off," Natalie Figanbaum said.

Bill and Jim Figanbaum, and Strottman, all siblings and owners of the company, rushed outside to shut down operations and call 911.

Emergency crews from Tripoli and Sumner responded immediately and worked for an hour to pull Gitch out safely. Welders from Plainfield had to drill a whole in the bin so rescuers could reach him.

The company has been in the Figanbaum family for about 50 years. Bill Figanbaum said this is a first for him.

"I've read about it and seen it on the news, but I've never experienced it," he said.

Randy Pfile, a volunteer emergency medical technician with the Tripoli Fire Department, responded to the accident site, which was across the street.

"I've been on different extractions from grain-bin calls in the past," Pfile said. "We haven't had a lot of them, so this one, by far, was a lot luckier than some."

Gitch has worked for the Figanbaums for about seven years.

"He's home here with us and he's doing fine," said his wife, Brenda Gitch.
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