WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | News, Weather & Sports

Gas From Farm's Manure Pit Kills Five

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

July 3, 2007

34-year-old Scott Showalter, a mennonite dairy farmer just outside Harrisonburg, was clearing a clogged pipe in his manure pit when he was overcome by the odorless gas methane

He was then followed by his wife, two daughters, and a farm worker all who climbed into the poorly ventilated pit to try and save him, all who died.

"It's just a tragedy. I mean, they're heartbroken, they're in shock right now and I think thats what would happen to any family under these circumstances," Rockingham County Sheriff Don Farley said.

Authorities say this type of pit is not uncommon and the method to clear the pipe is one that's used often.

"This was a repeated action that Mr. Showalter has done many times and just this day it was lined up in the stars that those gases could not escape and their odorless and you can't see them," Sheriff Farley said.

Because methane displaces oxygen, people die from suffocation. Sherriff Farley said before they hit the floor they were probably all dead.

"It was not a rescue mission, it was a recovery mission and it took us several hours to clear the pit of the harmful gas," Farley said.

Along with Scott Showalter, his 33-year-old wife Phyllis, 11-year-old daughter Shayla and nine-year-old daughter Christina all died, as well 24-year-old farmhand Amous Stoltzfus.

The Showalter's left behind 2 other younger daughters.


The comments sections of Newsplex.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. E-mail is required, but will not be displayed with comment.

  • Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. We will not post comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.
  • We will not post comments that use hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our website.
  • Comments should not attack other readers or people featured in our stories personally. Any accusations should be backed up with facts.
  • Any comment we post will be posted in its entirety. We do not edit any comment that we post.
     
  • Comments should contribute to the discussion. We will not post comments that don't advance the discussion. Flaming and/or trolling will not be tolerated.
     
  • Comments should not attack other posters. Let's keep the focus on the content of the story.

    As a host Newsplex.com welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However this is a site that we host. We have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason The Newsplex reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.

    If you have any ideas to improve the conversation or this section let us know. Send an e-mail to webmaster@newsplex.com.

 

powered by Disqus
The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 8302577