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Arm severely injured in farm accident

With a winter blizzard heading this way, Leo Barthel went out to the field to get some work done before the season's first major snowfall on Saturday.

The late-season chore turned into a tragedy for the Rush Lake area farmer, when his arm was seriously injured in a piece of machinery.

"He was trying to get the corn picked because he knew the storm was coming," said his wife, Sandy.

Leo underwent surgery on Sunday, and again on Monday in Fargo, but it remains uncertain how much use of his arm Leo will have.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene mid-afternoon Dec. 13 to extricate Barthel's hand from a corn picker.

A dozen New York Mills firefighters, and another dozen Perham firefighters and emergency service personnel, arrived to assist.

"It required the extraction equipment of both fire departments to free his arm," said Perham Fire Chief Tracy Schmidt. "We were able to extract it from the corn picker, but because of the bad weather, we were unable to transport him to Fargo by air."

The call was officially in the New York Mills coverage area, but Perham assisted with tools and manpower, said Schmidt.

Jay Barthel, who lives next to his parents' place, went to check on Leo and found his dad caught in the picker. Jay quickly went back to the farm and called 9-1-1. Emergency crews arrived on the scene a short time later.

The accident happened when a portion of Leo's clothes got caught in the mechanism, which pulled his hand into the picker.

According to Sandy, Leo's right arm was severely injured, but not detached. His right hand was crushed, but did not lose any fingers. Leo is left-handed.

"We're just hopeful that he will have some use of his arm," she added.