Tekamah, NE (AP) — About 75 people helped harvest the corn planted by a man who died last month after driving into a cloud of anhydrous ammonia that leaked from a pipeline near his home north in northeast Nebraska.
Authorities said the anhydrous ammonia, a farm fertilizer with suffocating fumes, leaked from the pipeline near Tekamah on Oct. 17.
Hazardous materials workers and Tekamah firefighters responded to reports of a motorist who needed help and moved Phillip Hennig, 59, to a safe area, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The leak caused 23 rural households to evacuate the area, and all but one of those households have been able to return.
Friends and neighbors came out Wednesday to harvest Hennig's 650 acres of corn. Neighbors have already harvested Hennig's bean crop, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
"The Hennig family has been neighbors of mine my whole life," Dan Kahlandt, one of the farmers helping out, said.
About 12 combines harvested approximately 120,000 bushels of corn, and those bushels were hauled in 120 semi loads to a grain elevator in nearby Oakland. Each combine costs about $300 per hour to use, and some of the machines went as long as six hours.
Friend Greg Gammel said the Hennig family could have possibly harvested the crop themselves, but it would have taken longer and the family is still grieving.
"When we leave here today, they'll still have a lot to worry about," Gammel said. "It's not over for them, so you try to help them out as much as you can."
Oklahoma-based Magellan Midstream Partners has been repairing the 8-inch-diameter pipeline that carries the fertilizer.