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Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2011

Elevator company vows to rebuild in Atchison

November 10, 2011

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— The day six people died in an explosion at a northeast Kansas grain elevator was the darkest in Bartlett Grain Co.'s history, the company's president said, while vowing to rebuild the Atchison facility.

Bartlett president Jim Hebenstreit told people gathered at a memorial service in Atchison Wednesday that the company is eager to find out what caused the explosion.

"It happened in a moment. Literally in a flash, and these six men were gone," he said. "I certainly hope and pray that discovering the facts will bring some peace."

He said the company would rebuild the elevator but that he wasn't yet sure when, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The explosion killed Bartlett employees John Burke, 24; Ryan Federinko, 21; Curtis Field, 21; and Chad Roberts, 20, as well as grain inspectors Travis Keil, 34; and Darrek Klahr, 43.

Bartlett employees Pat Maxwell and Clinton Ellerman were injured in the blast. Ellerman was released from the hospital Friday and Maxwell remains hospitalized.

"We hope this community's faith in us will remain," Hebenstreit, said. "Oct. 29 was the darkest day in Bartlett's history."

The family of each of the victims received an engraved plaque noting that Wednesday had been declared a "community remembrance day" in honor of the victims.

Gov. Sam Brownback said the entire state was mourning the victims.

"Six Kansans. Six friends. Six neighbors. Six family members are gone," Brownback said. "And we mourn. We mourn the loss. We mourn for the families. We mourn for their friends. I understand four were even planning weddings. We mourn for their fiancées."

Alicia Cobleigh, who planned to marry Chad Roberts on Nov. 19, sobbed throughout the ceremony, The St. Joseph News-Press reported.

"It was nice (to be united with other victims' family members) because you don't feel so alone," she said. "I think things will become more manageable, but I don't think we will ever feel closure."

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