Minnesota storm victim crushed by grain bin was volunteer firefighter heading out to spot weather

A woman surveys damage Friday, May 13, 2022, at the Erickson farm outside Blomkest, Minn. Volunteer firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson, 63, was killed Thursday night on his farm when a grain bin was blown over by high winds and fell on him as he was preparing to leave his farm for storm-watching duty. (Macy Moore / Forum News Service)

BLOMKEST, Minn. — A west-central Minnesota volunteer firefighter who was on his way to storm-watching duty died Thursday evening as a result of the storms that passed through the area.

Ryan Leif Erickson, 63, was identified Friday by Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Holien as the victim of the storm. Erickson died in the line of duty when a large grain bin was blown over by the high winds and fell on him as he was preparing to leave his farm to monitor storms near Blomkest.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office received the call to the rural Lake Lillian address at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday reporting Erickson missing after the bin blew down, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Emergency responders arrived to search and discovered Erickson under the collapsed grain bin, according to the news release. Erickson’s body was transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey.

Erickson was very involved in the Blomkest community, and had been since he was young man. He became a volunteer firefighter at 18 years old, according to Blomkest City Clerk Barbara Gilberts. He was also a former fire chief, serving in that position for approximately five years.

Ryan Leif Erickson (Forum News Service)

He was also the former owner of Erickson Plumbing and Heating, but sold his business recently and was working at Perkins Lumber, according to Gilberts.

“He was very well-known because he took part in a lot of stuff. If there was something you needed a volunteer for, he was one of the first to volunteer,” Gilberts said, noting he was a township board member and part of the rural electric board. “He was a promoter of small-town life. He loved his town and he was involved.”

She noted he was well-known for his creativity, and was always the last float in the Blomkest parade because of it. He also loved golfing and could often be found on the golf course in his spare time, Gilberts added.

Erickson leaves behind his wife, Kelly, two grown daughters and four grandchildren.

“For me, if you want to make a difference, you have to participate, and that’s what he did,” Gilberts said.

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