Official cause of death determined for Amherst farmer

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- The official cause of death for a 29-year-old Amherst that died Aug. 15 was accidental acute exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas, according to the Portage County Coroner.

Michael Biadasz and 13 cattle died near a manure holding tank on the farm located on County Rd D in the Town of Buena Vista last month.

Scott Rifleman stated in a news release, Biadasz was in the process of agitating a manure holding tank on his family’s farm. In the process, the crust layer was opened expelling the hydrogen sulfide gas. This operation was being conducted just prior to sun up. According to the National Weather Service at the Stevens Point Airport reporting station the wind was calm, sky clear with a heavy ground fog layer. There was reported a strong temperature inversion in the area. It is believed that due to the lack of air movement and the sudden release of a concentrated level of hydrogen sulfide, which is heavier than air, this created a gas rich environment.

Rifleman previously told NewsChannel 7 he had seen gas poisoning deaths before; however, they typically occur in a closed area.

Biadasz's obituary states a memorial will be established in his name for a farm safety program.

While deaths from methane gas are rare, they do occur. In 2007, five members of a Virginia family were killed when a pipe became blocked causing a build up of methane gas.