Tommy Osier, 18, a popular but indifferent student, was still a year from graduating from high school, and that was no sure thing. Farm work paid him $7.40 an hour, taught him discipline and gave him new skills.

But he hated the chore he drew on Memorial Day of last year, working inside the silo at Pine Grove Farm. The corn was damp and crusted. It tended to hang up on the sides of the old six-story cement bin and had to be busted up with a steel rod before it would cascade to the bottom to be shoveled out.

That morning, just after 9, the phone rang in the Osier home. “Tommy’s in the silo,” his sister relayed to their mother, Linda, unsure of what it meant.

Ms. Osier grew up on a hog farm and knew right away. “He’s dead,” she said, slumping to the floor. “Tommy’s dead.”

Since 2007, 80 farmworkers have died in silo accidents; 14 of them were teenage boys.

For more, see: Silos Loom as Death Traps on American Farms