Roger Cain survived starting farming in the early 1980’s when the economic wheels came off agriculture. He survived $7 per hundredweight hogs in the late ‘90’s. On January 13 he stepped inside a grain bin to determine why soybeans weren’t flowing. This time he didn’t survive.
Some six weeks later his wife, Christie, Rushville, a daughter, Niki and his niece, Ashley Bowles, gathered around the dining room table to send a message to husbands, dads and uncles everywhere. Another daughter, Hillary, was present via speaker phone, and a third daughter, Kisha, was present in spirit, even though she lives in California.
“We don’t want anyone else going through what we’ve had to go through in the past few weeks,” Niki says. She originally contacted Indiana Prairie Farmer because she felt the best way to honor the memory of her father was to tell his story, and hopefully help other farmers from making a similar mistake.
“Roger had probably done that a thousand times,’ Christie says. “He was a worker, and he wanted to get the beans hauled because we were supposed to go on a cruise a few weeks afterwards.”
Christie knows it doesn’t matter how many times he had done it before. It only took one time to make it a tragedy. Roger remains the love of her life, but her world changed forever on January 13, 2016.
The family still has their memories, but they don’t have their husband, dad and uncle. “I remember when he got his first new combine a couple years ago,” Niki says. “He was so proud. Dad loved the country, and he was a farmer through and through.”
No one may ever know exactly what happened. According to Christie he apparently entered the side door of a bin of soybeans with the auger running. A tall pile of beans along one wall apparently collapsed, knocking him over and covering him a couple feet deep.
“We have employees who were helping haul grain, but no one was there with him,” Christie relates. “He went in by himself. Several minutes later an employee was the first to discover what had happened. “
Bowles hopes that if anything good comes from this tragedy, it's that other farmers become more aware of the dangers involved in working with grain. The number one recommendation from safety experts is don’t enter a grain bin with the auger running.
“What we see is that when they’re working around grain, they need a buddy system,” Bowles says. “There needed to be at least one other person there, preferably two. Whenever someone goes into a bin for any reason, it would make sense that someone else was at the door.”
Saving someone else’s life and saving their family from suffering won’t bring their loved one back, but all agree it would be a legacy to Roger.
They may never know the name of anyone saved because they chose to speak out, or even know if someone escaped a close call because their story made them stop and think first. But one thing holding them together now is knowing they’re doing the right thing - spreading the message of grain bin safety.