9-year-old girl recovering following accident on Fond du Lac County farm

Nine year old Savannah Grahl is recovering after being crushed under a 1,000 pound bale of hay.
Nine year old Savannah Grahl is recovering after being crushed under a 1,000 pound bale of hay.(Family of Savannah Grahl)
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 4:53 PM CDT
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TOWNSHIP OF EDEN, Wis. (WBAY) - The 9-year-old girl injured on a farm in Fond du Lac County on Wednesday afternoon is sedated, but her family says she’s responding to simple commands.

Emergency responders were called to a farm on Sunny Road in Eden just before 3 P.M. for a report of a child trapped underneath bales of hay.

According to her mom, 9-year-old Savannah Grahl was in the calf barn on a family farm with her older sister and a friend playing with the new kittens, when she became trapped underneath a large bale of hay. The girl’s mom, who says she was right outside the barn on the phone, was walking into the barn when she heard the girls screaming. She said she found Savannah’s head and neck trapped between two bales of hay that were stacked on top of one another.

With the help of her sister-in-law, the two women were able to lift the thousand pound bale off of the girl, freeing her. The women got the girl breathing again before first responders arrived. she was eventually flown to Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Savannah’s mom said while she can breathe on her own, she’s on a ventilator while doctors wait for the swelling in her airway to go down. She also suffered a fracture to her occipital bone, which is the back lower part of the skull.

“A thousand pounds is a big bale if it falls onto a 9-year-old child. It has the opportunity to do significant damage, injury. If it falls on a child, in the right place or the wrong place, suffocation, crushing injuries,” says John Shutske.

Shutske is a professor with U.W.-Madison’s College of Agriculture. He’s also a farm safety and health specialist. He says about 25 million kids a year visit a farm --whether it be for a school field trip or to see family, like the Grahls were on Wednesday.

Sadly, about every three days, Schutske says, a child dies in an accident on a farm. While he doesn’t have specifics about the accident Wednesday, he says it’s an opportunity to remind people about how dangerous a farm can be to anyone. He adds, “If you think about that farm like you would a factory or a mine, whatever that may be, the hazards are different but the actual outcome if somebody gets hurt or badly injured can be very similar.”

Savannah Grahl’s mom says her daughter has a long road to recovery, but she is a fighter. They’re just so thankful she’s alive.

They want to thank the first responders, the ThedaStar team, and the doctors and nurses caring for her at Children’s Wisconsin because they know that care is critical to her survival.