The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 17, 2013

Farm worker dies in manure storage lagoon

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Staff Writer

DORSET TOWNSHIP — A farm worker who died Saturday morning at a Dorset Township farm is believed to have drowned in a manure storage lagoon after a tractor mishap, authorities said Monday.

The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as Santos Medina de Jesus, 41. A preliminary ruling indicates de Jesus, pinned by the tractor he was driving, drowned in the manure storage lagoon, said Richard Mongell, chief investigator for the Ashtabula County coroner’s office. An autopsy will be conducted, he said.

Deputies were dispatched to the Comp Dairy Farm, 3015 Allen-Comp Road, shortly before 8:30 a.m., about a man who had fallen into the lagoon. Upon arrival, deputies saw a tractor overturned in the lagoon, which was about one-half acre in size and an estimated four feet deep. Heavy equipment was used to remove the tractor, and a firefighter who entered the lagoon, tethered by a rope, was able to locate de Jesus’s submerged body, deputies said.

de Jesus, who had worked on the farm for the past five months, was in charge of removing manure from a barn and pushing it into the lagoon, deputies said in a report. A cement path linked the barn with the lagoon, and barriers ran the length of the path, deputies said. It appears the tractor, traveling on the path, passed through a chain barrier near the end of the path and flipped over into the pond, according to a report.

de Jesus’s may have been in the lagoon 30 minutes before the tractor was discovered by another worker, deputies said.

A report on the death will be shared with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, deputies said.