UPDATE: Durand Man Wins Carnegie Hero Medal

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UPDATE: DURAND (WIFR) – A local farmer is coming to grips with being called a hero.

Michael Bates is being honored with a Carnegie Hero Medal for saving his grandfather’s life after he fell into a grain bin back in January 2014. The 21-year-old is the only person in the state to be chosen in the group of 17. Bates says the title takes some getting used to.

“I’m not a huge fan of standing in front of TV cameras and huge crowds, sharing everything, sharing my story, trying to make a lesson from it. Obviously I know it’s very important,” says Bates.

Bates joins a group of five from the Rockford-area now with Carnegie Medals, the last being Roy Powers in 1943.

ROCKTON (WIFR) – It was a terrifying situation for a local farmer after emergency crews tell us the man was nearly buried alive inside a grain bin in rural Rockton this afternoon.

It’s a story we’ve been following all day and one that’s become a tale of survival.

“Your worst fear is, you know, we don’t want him to die.”

After 5 grueling hours stuck in a grain bin, 78 year old Roger Bates climbed out on his own.

“He’s ornery, but he’s cold so they’re going to check him out,” said Wayne Bates, the victim’s nephew.

Bates’ family just now able to breathe a sigh of relief, but they know the outcome could have been much worse. They say it was the farmer’s grandson Michael’s quick thinking that likely save the man’s life.

“At the beginning, keeping the corn away and getting it away from his chest so he could breathe and after that the grandson was smart enough to phone 911 immediately,” said Wayne Bates.

Rescue crews got to work immediately at the farm on Bates’ road in Rural Rockton, putting a harness on him so he didn’t sink deeper in the corn, then building a wall around him, removing the grain from that area. Rescuers say bates even helped them.

“He was in great spirits the whole time. His family even jokes, we gave him a cell phone so he could call and put his wife at ease a little bit. We’re just happy we were all able to work together and have a successful rescue,” said Division Chief Matt Knott with the Rockford Fire Department.

Fire fighters say its amazing Bates was able to walk away without a scratch from a situation that usually ends in death.

“Now that we’ve got him back, we’ll appreciate it.”

Bates was taken to the hospital to get checked out. More than a dozen fire departments from all over the area helped today. His family is very thankful to everyone who helped free Bates.

Because there’s so much pressure on the body when it is stuck in a grain bin, rescuers say it’s like being trapped in cement, so it’s nearly impossible to just pull a person out.

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