Manannah woman survived scary farming accident
By Adrienne Lipinski, granddaughter of Betty Lipinski (Originally printed in the Eden Valley-Watkins Voice -- reprinted with permission)
It’s been said that things can happen in the blink of an eye. Lives can change in a matter of moments.
What’s worse, most people never see it coming.
That’s what happened to rural Manannah resident Betty Lipinski. Last summer, Betty was severely injured in a farming accident when a grain auger malfunctioned.
Called “The miracle lady,” the wife, mother, and grandmother survived the unthinkable with the help of faith, love, and a toughness her family has admired for decades.
Thursday, June 20, 2019, started as a normal day for Betty and her husband, David. David had just finished taking in beans from the field and had them loaded in a semi. Betty had asked her husband what he was going to do with his day. He said he planned to sweep the rest of the beans into the middle of the grain bin.
“I’ll help you,” she remembered telling him. “I was worried about him climbing in and out of the grain bin.”
The task started off fine as they swept all the beans to the middle of the bin. In the bin were two augers – a sweep auger that rotates around the bin, moving the grain along, and another auger underneath the floor, in the middle of the bin.
After making sure the bin was clean, David climbed out of the bin to turn on the auger underneath the bin. Betty was still inside the bin, thinking it was safe to do so as the night before David had disengaged the sweep auger. He flipped a switch to turn on the bottom auger. The seconds that followed were terrifying.
“I saw her go down right away and flipped the switch off. It all happened in an instant,” David said.
The sweep auger had malfunctioned, and the best explanation for the situation was that the vibrations from the first auger engaged the sweep auger, making it go forward.
In that instant, the damage was done. The auger had gone up Betty’s leg and was resting on top of her. Miraculously, she was still upright.
She remembered it being very heavy, with all the weight on her leg. David went outside of the bin to get a pipe and a piece of wood. Once inside, he pried the auger up, and Betty put the piece of wood underneath.
Soon, she’d hear the sound of sirens.
After seeing firsthand the severity of the accident, David called 9-1-1. In a small town, rescue can come quickly, but it can also be tough as everybody knows everybody.
Eden Valley police chief Ernie Junker was one of the first on scene. Soon after, fire and rescue responders arrived. Betty’s leg was still underneath the auger. It had wrapped her pant leg up in it, acting as a tourniquet, somewhat, and burned the belts.
Junker recommended going by helicopter to North Memorial Hospital. Things were looking bleak, as a storm was coming, and the first helicopter that was called couldn’t come because of the weather. Then a miracle happened – a Princeton Air Care helicopter pilot had overheard what happened over the radio and said they could come. In under 10 minutes, the helicopter was there and preparing for transport.
Eden Valley Rescue put a tourniquet on, lifted the auger off of Betty, and stabilized her for the ride to Robbinsdale, a suburb of the Twin Cities.
“It was terrifying. I saw some blood pool around me, and I wondered if I was going to bleed to death,” recalled Betty.
By then it had started sprinkling. “The rain felt so nice once it hit me. It was very hot in the bin,” Betty said.
Seventeen minutes later, Betty arrived at North Memorial Hospital.
“I want to thank the Eden Valley Police Department, fire and rescue, Princeton Air Care, and anyone who helped that day. Without them I don’t what would have happened,” said Betty, who is extremely grateful.
The First Night
Once Betty arrived, she was immediately taken to surgery, the first of several operations she would endure. The surgery lasted about two hours, during which she received two pints of blood.
For Betty, everything was hazy, from the moment she got hurt to the time following her first surgery. “All I remember is waking up and seeing my family,” she said.
Betty and David have seven children, 25 grandkids, and seven great-grandkids. Nurses commented that they had never seen the waiting room so full. Since there were so many of them, they broke into groups of six or seven visitors and had four different rotations.
Though worried about their mother and grandmother, family members tried to stay positive, offering prayers for a woman they say is one tough lady. “She’s the strongest woman I know,” granddaughter Erin Lipinski said.
The Hospital Stay
Betty spent two weeks in the hospital, where she miraculously recovered from an accident that easily could have been fatal. She underwent a total of four surgeries and did both physical and occupational therapy at North Memorial.
Contact with the auger resulted in seven lacerations on Betty’s left leg. They went up her calf, skipping the back of her knee, and continued up her thigh.
Despite the severity of her wound, the doctors and nurses were surprised by how well it was healing. She was called “The Miracle Lady.”
Not a day passed without loved ones visiting Betty. Her room was decorated with flowers from friends and family. “Everyday I woke up and my room looked like a flower garden,” said Betty.
The nurses were nice, helpful, and the source of a good laugh. One asked Betty what had happened and learned that she lived on a farm. The nurse then stated that if they were farmers, they must be from Farmington. “We still laugh about it,” said David.
Family members spent some nights with Betty at the hospital so she wouldn’t be alone. Nurses kept adding chairs to Betty’s room, smiling each time the Lipinskis asked for one more to fit visitors.
A few days in, Betty was moved to a bigger room. “We still couldn’t fit all the family in and always had to ask for more chairs,” said son Randy Lipinski.
Cards offering sympathy and prayers kept coming. “I think I have over 200 cards; it is amazing the support and prayers I’ve gotten,” said Betty.
After two weeks and a day, Betty could finally leave the hospital. But she couldn’t come home yet.
With her wound dressing needing to be changed and some day-to-day functions still challenging, Betty moved into the Koronis Manor, a care center in Paynesville, for a week. “I was well taken care of and happy to be closer to home,” said Betty.
It was the beginning of a full recovery – one that was looking very bright.
Home At Last
After three weeks away, Betty finally came home. After everything that happened, it was great to be back. “It was wonderful to be home. It was so nice,” said Betty.
The first week or two was filled with a steady stream of visitors, but that has since slowed down. She still has a few home health aides who assist some days.
Since coming home Betty has made trips to St. Cloud to have her wound examined. For a while she faced the possibility of another surgery, but she’s since been told that the progressive healing of her wound means that won’t have to happen.
“I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has helped me in this journey and on my road to recovery, including everyone from Eden Valley, North Memorial staff, and Koronis Manor,” Betty said with a smile of gratitude.
For Betty, it’s important to keep the faith – a strong faith – when times are hard, and to keep friends and family close. The light of faith and love always shines brightest in the darkest times.