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Midwest Teenage Rite Ends in Tragedy
Wall Street Journal ^ | July 29, 2011 | DOUGLAS BELKIN And SCOTT KILMAN

Posted on 07/29/2011 9:12:24 AM PDT by reaganaut1

TAMPICO, Ill.—A summer rite of passage for tens of thousands of Midwestern teenagers turned to a time of mourning for two 14-year-old girls—neighbors and best friends—who were electrocuted in a muddy field as they removed tassels from corn.

The teenagers, Hannah Kendall and Jade Garza, were killed Monday after they came in contact with irrigation equipment or a nearby puddle conducting high voltage. Authorities said the incident was under investigation, but local farmers blamed irrigation system damage caused by a weekend lightning strike.

"It's one of those one-in-a-billion things," said Doug Mitchell, a farmer whose property abuts the field where the accident occurred and saw the electric meter box after it was struck by lightning.

Eight other people were also shocked, two seriously, authorities said.

Across the city of Sterling, 100 miles west of Chicago, where the girls lived, makeshift memorials hung on street corners and at the high school they were set to attend. Corn detasseling is considered prime summer work for teenagers across much of the corn belt; almost everyone here has spent a summer detasseling or knows someone who has.

"We're all shaken up," said Tim Duncan, a high-school history teacher who has led a crew of teenagers in the fields every summer for the past 26 years. "That could have happened to any one of us."

As corn plants mature, seed companies hire crews of mostly students at about $8 an hour to remove the tops—called the tassel. That ensures that only the pollen from select plants with the tassel left intact will pollinate the corn. The tassel is kept on corn raised for consumption instead of seed.

Early-morning fields are typically covered with dew, and frequently muddy from rain, so workers are wet all morning.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: accident
Sad story. I hope the families have good memories of their daughters and that the girls had happy lives.
1 posted on 07/29/2011 9:12:36 AM PDT by reaganaut1
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To: reaganaut1

It is a sad story. But detasseling corn is not a rite of passage in the Midwest or anywhere else. It’s a summer job.


2 posted on 07/29/2011 9:15:59 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (There is no native criminal class except Congress. Mark Twain)
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To: reaganaut1

We made good money walking beans and detasseling corn in the summer time in the early 80’s. (Iowa) I made $100 a week. It was so much money for a 14 yr old.


3 posted on 07/29/2011 9:17:54 AM PDT by submarinerswife (Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results~Einstein)
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To: definitelynotaliberal

I know I never did it and I spent years working on a farm.


4 posted on 07/29/2011 9:21:06 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: definitelynotaliberal

Correct. Been there. Done that. Correct safety equipment is rubber hip waders or, at least, knee high rubber boots. You check them for leaks before you go in because possible current isn’t the only hazzard. There are also snakes you can see and water or mud-borne organisms which you can’t.


5 posted on 07/29/2011 9:24:28 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: reaganaut1
My 16 year is doing this now. Start at 5:30 and go to 3:00. Good solid work. They worked through some record setting heat last week and made it through.

Tragic situation with these 2 girls, just heartbreaking.

6 posted on 07/29/2011 9:29:23 AM PDT by HereInTheHeartland (I love how the FR spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "Obama")
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To: reaganaut1

This is near me.

The pivot was hit by lightening the night before, and the farmer called an electrician. He didn’t have a chance to check it out before the accident.

The pivot was switched “off”, and they have not release just how it was still live. The local OSHA inspector said he has never heard of a case like this.

Very sad. Funerals are today.


7 posted on 07/29/2011 10:00:00 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal

It is a sad story. But detasseling corn is not a rite of passage in the Midwest or anywhere else. It’s a summer job.

&&&
Yeah, what a stupid headline and first sentence. I really thought I was going to read about some dumb teen prank that had gone bad.


8 posted on 07/29/2011 10:06:58 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012)
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