3 Brothers Die After Getting Stuck in Manure Pit

Three brothers died after allegedly getting stuck in a manure pit at a farm in western Ohio on Tuesday, according to local outlets.

On Tuesday afternoon, three brothers—Gary, Todd and Brad Wuebker—were conducting maintenance on a pump inside a manure storage pit in Mercer County, Ohio, before someone reported all three of them had become unconscious.

The Kansas City Star reported that St. Henry firefighters received a call for help around 12:30 p.m. and found all three men at the bottom of the pit.

The Mercer County Outlook reported that in addition to police, the St. Henry Fire Department, Chickasaw Fire Department, Celina Fire Department Dive Team and an additional squad were requested to aid in the rescue mission. An Air Ambulance was also reportedly requested at the scene.

First responders pulled all three men out of the pit and they were transported to an area hospital. Despite lifesaving efforts, all three died.

"A mass for the family was held Tuesday Evening. Another mass will be held tonight at 7 pm at the St. Henry Catholic Church," the Mercer County Outlook wrote.

While the cause of the deaths has not been released, the Kansas City Star highlighted that manure pits easily produce a range of toxic gases, and the chance that the brothers were exposed to such gases is highly likely.

Livestock farmers often store large amounts of manure in concrete pits for later use as fertilizer, the Kansas City Star reported.

As the manure piles up in the concrete pits, it can become a very deep and toxic pit to enter. According to the National Ag Safety Database (NASD), "there have been several instances where a farmer, family member, or employee has asphyxiated or succumbed to toxic gases from the pit."

"Nationwide data shows that most deaths occur during the summer months, a time when many producers are emptying pits," it added.

The four main gases produced in these pits are hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide, which—when created in high concentrations—can reach highly toxic levels.

The NASD warns that pits are "unpredictable," and circumstances have changed that have made them more dangerous.

The NASD says that pits "may have been safe to work around for years, but suddenly, factors such as the stage of manure decomposition, wind conditions, or other components are just right (or in this case, wrong) for the pit to release deadly concentrations of toxic gases."

"Always treat a pit as if it is a death trap and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others if entry is necessary," it warns.

It is unclear if the Wuebker brothers were wearing breathing apparatus or ventilation, as the NASD recommends.

Newsweek reached out to the Mercer County Sherriff's Office for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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Three brothers were found unconscious in a manure pit in western Ohio and later died in the hospital. Spencer Platt/Getty Images