State safety officials are investigating six possible heat-related deaths
Investigators are awaiting coroners’ cause-of-death determinations in all six cases, said Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
The fatalities include a 47-year-old tractor driver who died July 7 after falling ill while harvesting cantaloupes in 102-degree heat in Blythe, in Riverside County. A 56-year-old farmworker died April 26 after collapsing while picking corn in Imperial County, when the temperature was 84.
Other deaths under review include a 38-year-old grading foreman and a 53-year-old laborer who died after cleaning out waste bins. Both deaths occurred in June in Imperial County, in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.
Cal/OSHA also is investigating the June death of a 48-year-old member of a drilling crew in Niland, in Imperial County, and that of South Pasadena Police Officer Kevin Sandoval, 23, who fell and struck his head June 14 at a firing range in Azusa.
Last year, Cal/OSHA investigated 11 deaths as potentially heat-related, but medical examiners eventually ruled that nine were from other causes, Monterroza said. In 2009, California had one confirmed heat-related death, she said.
-- Kim Christensen
Photo: South Pasadena Police Officer Kevin Sandoval
Credit: South Pasadena Police Department