Stalder honored for saving woman
Washington resident Randy Stalder likes to keep a low profile and stay out of the limelight. But in a few weeks, the spotlight will be on Stalder when he accepts the Governor’s Lifesaving Award for saving the life of 24-year-old Amanda Vittetoe. One year ago, Vittetoe fell into a manure pit and was submerged for more than a minute before Stalder came to the rescue and pulled her to safety. Stalder will be given his award at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 13.
The incident occurred at a farm near West Chester on Aug. 24 of last year. Stalder hauls weaned pigs and was at the farm to drop them off at the nursery. Vittetoe was a field supervisor for JWV Pork, owned by her parents, Jerome and Heidi Vittetoe. Vittetoe was there to help Stalder back his trailer up to the chute so the pigs could be unloaded. There was a manure pit on the farm and Stalder recalls that the manure pit lid was off, leaving an opening of about 4 feet by 4 feet. He remembers talking to Amanda before unloading his trailer.
Amanda recalled, “I tossed Randy a pair of cover-alls – I turned around to walk into the barn, and that’s when I fell into a manure pit that was 8 feet deep and full of manure.”
A little while later, Stalder glanced at the manure pit and noticed how full it was.
“That’s when I saw an air bubble come up,” said Stalder. “I thought that was odd. After I saw the second air bubble, I knew something was wrong. It dawned on me that Amanda walked there, and I wondered if she fell in.”
When Stalder approached the pit, he could see Vittetoe’s fingertips sticking out. He rushed to the pit to pull her out. Now he could see her eyes and nose rise above the surface.
“I had her around the wrist, and realized it was so slick that I lay down, grabbed her around her shoulders and pulled her up to get her arms around the ledge,” said Stalder. “I pulled her up enough where she could yell at me. I grabbed her around her waist, and pulled her sweatpants up. Then I grabbed her sweatpants and pulled the rest of her out.”
Vittetoe was submerged in the 8-foot-deep pit for more than a minute. Stalder said the surface of the pit was so thick that he didn’t hear a splash.
“She had no time to yell or nothing. It was that quick,” he said.
Vittetoe said the surface of the pit was so thick and crusty that it appeared to be dirt, not manure. She went all the way to the bottom of the pit, and got into a crouch so she could push off the floor, propelling herself to the top. She said she had already tried pushing herself up from the bottom once or twice when Stalder arrived.
“I braced my legs against both sides of the pit, and he pulled up while I pushed off the wall,” said Vittetoe. “I tried so hard to get out, and I was wearing these plastic boots over my shoes that filled with manure, which weighted me down.”
Stalder wrapped Vittetoe in blankets he had in his vehicle, and then drove her to Washington. Stalder said he was worried Vittetoe had inhaled a significant amount of methane gas.
For more, see our July 29 print edition.