"When I went through with the probe, it just all burst underneath me," Johnson said.
Clumps were underneath all the corn Johnson was standing on, and once he broke through with his stick, he got sucked right in. His nephew watched helplessly as his uncle sank further into the bin of kernels, the grain like quicksand.
"I was in the bin trying to hold it together," he remembered.
Somehow, Johnson grabbed onto a nearby rope and held on for two hours until emergency crews arrived.
"I wasn't going to let go of that safety rope for all the tea in China," he said.
Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag and his rescue team, which included firefighters from multiple counties, cut holes around the bin so the corn could pour out. Studies show during accidents like this, 3 out of 4 people don't make it out alive. However, even after this close call, the retired farmer says he'll be back to help.
"We grew up with all of this, and we just have fun," he said.
Johnson was briefly hospitalized after this close call. The Geneva Township farm belongs to Johnson's nephew, who says they are now adding safety harnesses inside all the grain bins.