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Report details efforts to rescue mother fatally pinned by hay bale


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HENDRUM, Minn. — The Norman County Sheriff's Office has released more details of a farm accident last month that fatally injured a 28-year-old mother.


Katherine Brommenschenkel Vilmo, of Ada, was feeding cattle Friday, Nov. 16, on her family's farm in Hendrum along Minnesota Highway 200. It was about 9 a.m. when a large hay bale pinned Vilmo against a cattle feeder, according to a sheriff's office report.


Vilmo's mother, Diane Brommenschenkel, told Sheriff Jeremy Thornton that her daughter was outside doing chores when the mother got a call from her daughter. When Brommenschenkel answered the phone, however, "there was nothing there," the report stated.

Brommenschenkel looked outside and didn't see any movement, so she went outside to check, the report said. She told the sheriff that she found her daughter unresponsive, with a hay bale pinning her against the rail of the cattle feeder.


The mother told the sheriff that she didn't know how to move the hay loader, but managed to use the loader to lift the bale off of her daughter.

There were apparently no witnesses to the accident, so exactly how Vilmo became pinned is unknown. Brommenschenkel told the sheriff she believed her daughter was cutting twine on the bale and it slid and pinned her.

The time span between Brommenschenkel receiving the call from her daughter and lifting the bale off of her was about five minutes, Sheriff Thornton told Forum News Service.

The sheriff's office received a 911 call from Brommenschenkel reporting the accident, the report said. A member of the Halstad rescue squad was the first emergency worker to arrive on scene and started CPR. Thornton arrived shortly before 9:30 a.m. and called for an air ambulance.


Highway 200 was blocked off so the helicopter could land. Vilmo was breathing on her own when the helicopter took off, the report said. She was flown about 30 miles south to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

Vilmo died Sunday, Nov. 18, from injuries suffered in the accident, according to her obituary. Her funeral was the following Saturday at Grace Lutheran Church in Ada. She's survived by her husband and 3-month-old daughter, as well as her parents and sisters.

"Farming is the most dangerous occupation there is," said Rick Schmidt, a farm safety expert with the North Dakota State University Extension Service in Oliver County, northwest of Bismarck.


Schmidt said more farmers are killed on the job than any other occupation. High-risk factors include heavy equipment, animals and their feed — hay bales can weigh 1,300 to 1,600 pounds — as well as fatigue, stress and inclement conditions.


Every day, about 100 agricultural workers suffer an injury that results in time lost from work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2016, the CDC found that 417 farmers died from work-related injuries. The leading cause of death was tractor rollovers, while other hazards included pesticides, all-terrain vehicles, grain silos and bins.




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I saw this yesterday and was saddened for both the young woman and the family she left behind.  I had just helped some good friends move over two hundred round bales on Saturday, and although I spent all of the time in the tractor seat, I was very well aware of the potential dangers of farm work.  The people I worked with always laugh at me that I wear the seat belt on the tractor, but I've heard too many stories of people falling off and getting seriously hurt or killed, so their ribbing doesn't bother me.  I would rather be safe than sorry.

The view from my seat -



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Those bales are no joke. They roll easily, especially down hill. I can easily imagine getting pinned & not being able to move it off yourself.

When I unload mine I have to fight the cows off while I untied the twine net surrounding the bale. Per the article that's double risky - large animals & heavy hay bales.

Sad story. Really sad. RIP.

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My guess is that she dropped the feeder around the bale and got inside to pull the twine.  Either the bale shifted or animals pushed the feeder, trapping her between the bale and the feeder.  Once they start, it can be hard to move the gentlest cows away.  

Unrolling round bales from your tractor or truck is the safer method.  It alleviates one from the conundrum of how to cut the securing material and drop the feeder around the bale without injury or death.

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