1 dead in manure pit incident

Farm Forum

One man is dead and another is in critical condition after a Sunday incident in a manure pit at an Orient-area farm.

Lonnie Martinmaas, 58, died at Faulkton Medical Center on Sunday, said Orient Fire Chief Joe Schulte. Rick Martinmaas was flown to Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls and was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon, said Jay Gravholt, director of media relations for Avera.

The brothers run Martinmaas Dairy near the Faulk-Hand county line.

Lonnie Martinmaas was sitting outside a manure pit, and Rick Martinmaas was in the pit when Schulte arrived at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The way Schulte understands it, the two men succumbed to methane gas from the pit.

“To be honest, I really don’t know what happened. From my understanding it was just the two of them there when it happened.” Schulte said. “We just assisted the paramedics in getting them out of the pit. It’s a manure pit under a dairy barn. Rick was in there. We got there and (Lonnie) was out sitting outside the pit. He died at the hospital.”

Schulte explained that the manure in the dairy barn flows to pit, where it is then pumped out to a lagoon.

The incident is a blow to the tight-knit Orient community.

“It’s a really devastating loss for our community, our Orient community,” Schulte said. “Both the guys were super great, and they would take the shirt of (their) back for you and help you out whenever you needed. Definitely devastating for a little community like ours.”

Funeral services for Lonnie Martinmaas will be 11 a.m. Monday at St. Liborius Catholic Church in Polo. Luce Funeral Home of Faulkton will handle arrangements.