From Articles.Philly.com, Kathleen Brady Shea, Inquirer Staff Writer, 19 Jan 2012.
A mushroom worker who died Monday after being crushed by a 700-pound hay bale at an Avondale processing plant has been identified, police said today.
New Garden Township Police said officers responded to the Cardile Brothers Mushrooms plant in the 8800 block of Gap Newport Pike on Monday at 12:44 p.m. for “a medical emergency related to an industrial-related incident.” When they arrived, Lucio Valderrabano, 40, was pronounced dead.
Police said no further details would be released until a joint investigation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been completed.
Walter Timby, a spokesman for the mushroom company, called Valderrabano’s death “a terrible, terrible accident.” He said Valderrabano was a “diligent, hardworking” employee who had worked at the fourth-generation, family-owned company for nearly two years.
On Monday, he said Valderrabano, who lived on the property as well, had been working with the 700-pound hay bales that are used to make compost for mushroom-growing, a job he had performed many times. Timby said it appeared that Valderrabano had untied the rope holding the bottom bale together and was walking around to the other side of a two-bale stack when the top bale, which was no longer supported properly, fell on him.
Timby said Valderrabano’s coworker, who had left momentarily to get a knife so he could assist Valderrabano in preparing the bales to be broken up for composting, returned and contacted Charles Cardile, who called 911.
“At this point we don’t know whether he became distracted or didn’t recognize what had happened,” Timby said.
News of Valderrabano’s death hit the company hard, said Timby, who described a family atmosphere among the approximately 100 employees of the production operation as well as members of the Cardile family, several of whom are involved “hands-on” in daily operations.
Timby said the company, which began operating in 1940, had never experienced a serious work-related injury, let alone a fatality. “Everyone was visibly upset,” said Timby.
He said that although Valderrabano, a Mexican immigrant, had not listed “next of kin” on his employment documentation, a friend located his wife in Mexico. Timby said arrangements are being made to get her a visa so that she can claim the body.
“The Cardiles are eager to provide any assistance they can,” Timby said.