Farming Community Mourns Loss Of Winner Teen

16 Year Old Taylor Watzel Died Wednesday Following A Grain Bin Accident



Authorities say Taylor Watzel, 16, became trapped in a grain bin on a family farm in Winner on Tuesday.

He passed away at a Sioux Falls hospital on Wednesday.

Lifelong farmer, Miles Mendel of Doland said the farming community in the state is grieving the death of Watzel.

“You think about the family that has now gone through it and now has to deal with this loss and the what if’s,” said Mendel.

Mendel and his family work with grain bins on their farm every year.

He said when one accident happens, it has a ripple effect across South Dakota.

“As a father and I have nephews who work on the farm, it’s probably the biggest fear you have. You’re willing to take risks for yourself but you really don’t want that to happen to the ones that you love,” said Mendel.

Mendel said the reason for anyone to climb inside the grain bin is to clear grains that get stuck inside due to moisture.

He concedes he doesn’t know the nature of the winner accident, but he said he’s seen risks taken due to stresses about the final line.

“You’ve got tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of grains in a bin. You’re probably under time restraints and a lot of times, wisdom goes out the door,” said Mendel.

Mendel warns that an apparent quick fix to a problem inside a grain bin can create serious problems without the proper precautions.

“That invincibility happens and you think “I’ve done it 100 times, it should be safe” and then the unexpected happens,” said Mendel.

His suggestions for anyone needing to go inside a grain bin include use proper safety equipment, like a harness.

He also said someone should monitor the situation when a worker goes inside the bin.

Authorities have not released any details as to what happened that caused the fatal accident.

The Winner football team honored Watzel last night before their regular season finale.

Watzel was a junior linebacker on the team.

They went on to defeat Jones County-White River 64-0.