Caledonia community mourns man killed in industrial accident

Grain elevator death

CALEDONIA, MICH. - As authorities continue their investigation, we're learning more about the 56-year-old man who was killed in what officials are calling an industrial accident.

On Saturday, the Kent County Sheriff's Office responded to the Caledonia Farmers Elevator. When they arrived they found that 56-year-old Dan Hibma who was working on site was involved in an accident.

"I got word pretty much right after it happened," Jodi Vander Velde, said. 

Vander Velde owns the Caledonia Family Tavern just a few feet away, from the scene. She says Hibma was a regular at the tavern for decades

"My manager happened to live right around the corner and they started looking for him because they started to get suspicious of things because he wasn't showing up anywhere," she said. "They couldn't find him anywhere, that unfortunately was the last place they looked and there he was." 

Authorities did not give many details surrounding the incident, but say they had to use technical rescue equipment to recover Hibma.

"It was horrible it absolutely breaks my heart," Vander Velde said.  "He was just a fun guy, just so simple not much got to Dan," she added as she fought back the tears over the phone.

"He loved Michigan football that was probably what got him worked up the most."  

Known as Lumberyard Dan to many due to his previous job, the Tavern shared the news on their Facebook. Comments of condolences trailed down the page for a man, Vander Velde says is irreplaceable.

"It was just easy to be around him and that's what makes it so hard."

Authorities are still investigating the incident. Vander Velde says they are planning a bike run in honor of Hibma sometime next month.

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