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Elevator employee rescued from silo

After eight hours of working in the cold and snows rescue workers used a rope and pulley to pull a Feely Elevator employee from the corn silo where he had spent much of the day trapped.

The man, elevator manager Mark Malecha, had gone into the silo to move the corn around 11:30 a.m. when he was trapped. He was in the process of emptying the silo at the time.

"When he was in there the corn shifted on him and pinned him up against what would be the south side of the grain bin," police chief Brian Lindquist said.

Lindquist said he could hear the man tapping on the wall of the silo when he arrived.

When rescue crews arrived Malecha was buried in corn up to his chest. There was concern, because the corn sloped up to the north wall of the silo, that shifting corn might slide down and bury him. Trains on the nearby railroad tracks were stopped for fear the vibration would cause the corn to shift further.

The access hatch in the top of the silo was too far away from where the Malecha was trapped so a hole was cut in the top of the silo and an emergency room medic was lowered into the bin. Before moving the victim, rescue workers built a plywood barricade so the corn wouldn't shift and bury him further. Using plastic buckets they dug the corn from around Malecha, pushing the barricades farther down as they worked to keep corn from spilling back in. A second hole cut in the side of the silo allowed rescue workers to dump the corn without pulling it to the top of the silo.

Finally, shortly after 7:30, firefighters started pulling on a rope connected by a series of pulleys to Malecha. They lifted him slowly out of the silo, then lowered him gently to the ground. He was taken quickly to a waiting ambulance. Malecha, who was alert and conscious throughout, gave the gathered crowd a thumbs up before he was placed into the ambulance.

Farmington police and firefighters were the first on the scene. Various other agencies have have joined in the effort to extract the man including Rosemount Fire Department, Hastings Fire Department and Dakota County Special Operations.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.