2 dead in grain elevator collapse

RUSSELL — Two workers were killed Thursday when a grain elevator collapsed, burying them in wheat, authorities said.

Officials said Max Greve, 21, of Hays, and Sean Banks, 19, of Russell, were unloading a tractor-trailer full of wheat around 2 p.m. when two bins at the Agco Inc. elevator in Russell collapsed, burying them with grain. Russell is on I-70, about 180 miles west of Topeka.

The rig's driver was away from the vehicle and was able to escape, said Russell County Sheriff John Fletcher.

Afterward, authorities closed nearby U.S. 281, and crews used dump trucks and other heavy equipment to move the wheat in search of the missing workers.

The bodies of Greve, a Fort Hays State University student from Nebraska, and Banks, a freshman outfielder for the Hutchinson Community College baseball team, were recovered shortly before 5 p.m.

Fletcher said the collapse was the result of a structural failure, not an explosion.

Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Todd Hileman said the remainder of the elevator is structurally sound. Officials said engineers were being brought to the facility to determine why the rest of it collapsed.

Vickie Tammen, who lives southwest of the elevator, told the Hays Daily News there was "no bang, no boom."

"It sounded like a bunch of newspapers being crumpled," Tammen said. "I turned around and from that point, you could see the towers completely collapsing to the ground."

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