COLUMBUS, Neb. — An eastern Nebraska farmer says he’s lucky he wasn’t alone in his field when he suffered a heart attack during harvest.

Butch Runge, 65, believed that he was just having bad indigestion while operating a combine on Nov. 7, The Columbus Telegram reported.

“I just starting getting a pain in my chest,” Runge said.

But Runge’s daughter, Michele Martin, is a paramedic who works in the emergency room at York General Hospital. She realized her father was having a heart attack and rushed him to the hospital.

The medical team at Columbus Community Hospital determined Runge’s condition was a “widowmaker,” a massive heart attack that often leads to death. A blood clot and plaque had broken off and blocked his heart’s arteries.

Runge was stabilized at the local hospital and then taken to the Nebraska Heart Institute in Lincoln for a procedure to remove the blockage in his heart and open up his arteries.

Runge said he was lucky his daughter had decided to help out in the field that day.

“If I’d have been out there by myself, I’d have been dead,” he said. “There’s a lot of farmers out there all day by themselves.”

Runge said he hadn’t been feeling well the week of the heart attack, but put off going to the doctor because he wanted to harvest the corn crop. Runge said his experience has taught him that it’s important to pay attention to signs of potential health issues, even in the hectic harvest season.

“I guess God works in mysterious ways,” Runge said. “It just wasn’t my time to go.”

Information from: Columbus Telegram,

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.