Authorities say that deadly methane gas that was coming out of a dairy farm's manure pit has killed five people in Virginia. The dead include four members of a local Mennonite family and a farmhand.
The victims were identified as Scott Showalter, 33; his wife, Phyillis, 34 and their two children, Shayla, 11, and Christina, 9. The fifth victim was identified as Amous Stoltzfus, 24, who worked at the Showalter's dairy farm in the Briery Branch community.
Emergency workers speculate each of the victims climbed into the pit in a frantic attempt to rescue the others. "It was a domino effect with one person going in, the second person going after them," Sheriff Don Farley said.
They believe that the accident started on Monday evening when Scott Showalter was trying to transfer manure from one small pit into a larger one that measured 20 feet by 20 feet and 8 feet deep.
At some point in time, it is believed that the pipe that was transferring the manure got clogged up and so Scott Showalter climbed in the pit to try to fix the blockage. It is believed that he became overcome from the methane gas, which is a byproduct of the liquefied manure.
Emergency workers believe Stoltzfus was the next to climb into the pit in an attempt to rescue Showalter and after the two men didn't come out, Phyillis Showalter and then the couple's two daughters made their way into the pit and all were killed by the deadly gas.