MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- An employee at a Manhattan asphalt plant was airlifted to a Wichita hospital Monday with serious injuries after being trapped inside a piece of machinery.
At 12:30 PM, emergency responders were called to Shilling Construction's asphalt plant on McDowell Creek Road. According to officials with the Riley County Police Department, one of the workers, 24-year-old Willie Hegwood, of Manhattan, was caught in a conveyor belt at the plant.
Mike Shilling of Shilling Construction calls the incident a freak accident. He says a conveyor belt pulled Hegwood into the framework of a machine, leaving him "cramped in a very tight spot." Shilling believes a piece of Hegwood's clothing got stuck in the belt, yanking his body into a small space inside the structure of the machine. Hegwood was inverted and was having trouble breathing because of the way his body was contorted, Shilling said.
Hegwood was awake and talking at the scene and had multiple abrasions from the conveyor belt along with a broken arm and dislocated shoulder. Officials say he also had possible internal injuries.
Once crews extracted Hegwood, he was rushed to Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan and then airlifted to Via Christi Hospital in Wichita where he is now stable.
Mike Shilling says members of his company are investigating the situation to find out exactly how the accident happened. He thinks Hegwood might have been trying to check on something while the machine was running. Shilling says Hegwood is one of his best workers and he hopes he recovers and returns to work soon. His brother, Doug Shilling of Shilling Construction, says the company's thoughts and prayers go out to Hegwood and his family.