LOUDONVILLE -- A dairy farm worker drowned Friday morning while moving manure into a holding pit north of Loudonville.
The incident took place around 6:30 a.m. on County Road 175 near County Road 2575.
A 22-year-old worker was operating a skid loader with a squeegee on the front, pushing cow manure from a barn to a holding pit, when he apparently lost control of the machine, according to Ashland County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Carl Richert. The man's name was not released at the time of publication.
The machine traveled too close to the edge of the holding tank and fell down into the pit, Richert said, adding that the cause of the accident remains unclear.
The ground was not icy at the time, but it was wet and muddy, according to Richert.
"I don't think this was weather related at all," Richert said. "The work is always wet and slippery like that."
Other workers used a front loader to pull the skid loader from about eight feet of product, but the man was no longer inside the equipment.
It was not immediately clear whether the man was ejected from the skid loader or deliberately disembarked, Richert said.
The Ashland County Sheriff's Office Dive Team located the body of the victim and pulled the body from the holding pit.
"We have a procedure that we follow, and we followed it," Richert said. "We were able to locate him quickly, but it was not quickly enough."
Richert said the pit was about 40 feet wide and approximately 12 feet deep. It contained about eight feet of manure and water product.
Loudonville, Perrysville and Ashland fire departments assisted at the scene, along with a representative from the Ashland County Coroner's office.
The body of the deceased was sent to Cuyahoga County for an autopsy.