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Horrors In A Grain Silo: Deadly Dangers Still Plague Farms


Five stories that have North Texas talking: Grain accidents needlessly claim lives in the Lone Star State, Dallas throws a BIG party, Baylor’s Griner dunks for George W. Bush and more.

If you don’t have a tie to the world of agriculture, you probably don’t think twice about grain bin accidents and OSHA regulations. But an investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity shows Texas is not exempt from the terrible practice of “walking down the grain.” That means sending people inside storage bins with shovels and picks to break up clogs, which sometimes leads to a quicksand effect, trapping people inside.

Last night, NPR’s Howard Berkes told the harrowing story of a 20 year-old and two teenagers sent to the top of a four-story corn bin in Illinois. First Wyatt Whitebread and then Alex Pacas were sucked under while their friend Will Piper frantically tried to scoop away loose kernels so they could breathe.  "One last chunk of corn came flowing down and went around his face, and I still had one arm free," Piper remembers. "And I tried to sweep it away from his face as much as I could, and eventually there was just too much.” Whitebread and Pacas, 14 and 19, suffocated. Piper was freed after six hours.

NPR has posted accident reports for the state of Texas dating back to 1988. The reports detail the deaths of 14 people including two 17 year olds. Nearly 500 workers and farmers have suffocated in grain in the last 40 years. Tonight on All Things Considered, Berkes goes into a grain bin himself to demonstrate the power of corn and the safe entry practices required by law.

  • Texas is worst in the nation when it comes to inappropriate teacher, student relationships, according to Terry Abbott. The chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush started tracking these incidents and has found 26 in Texas alone since the beginning of the year. One of the most recent happened near Houston. Spring Branch ISD teacher Kathanna Culp, 28, is accused of having sex with a student and hosting marijuana parties. [WFAA]

  • Big things are happening in Dallas… this afternoon at Victory Park. It’s a kickoff party of sorts for the city’s new logo and tagline “Big Things Happen Here.” You’re invited to come celebrate why you love Dallas with bounce houses, putting greens, local politicians and the Cowboys’ cheerleaders. Dallas’ BIG Celebration cranks up at 4 p.m. The Dallas Morning News gave the new brand a little context when it was first announced back in the fall.

  • City slogans range from chest-puffing to clever. While some are constantly being retooled (see item above), others are entrenched. MSNBC recently picked nine of the best and Texas is represented twice. Not surprisingly, “Keep Austin Weird” made the list. And tiny border town Eagle Pass was given top billing for its slogan, “Where Yee-Hah! Meets Ole!” The entire list is worth checking out, but we’ll spoil one more for you. Saratoga, Wyoming goes by the tagline “Where Trout Leap in the Streets.” [MSNBC]

  • Baylor’s Brittney Griner is a basketball force to be reckoned with. In front of a packed house last night, one that included former President George W. Bush, Griner scored 33 points, logged a career high 22 rebounds and dunked not once, not twice, but three times. The 6 foot 8 All American helped the Lady Bears shred the Florida State Seminoles 85-47 in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and Griner’s final home game. Baylor next takes the hard court Sunday night against Louisville. Check out the dunks from last night's game below. [AP via NPR]

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.