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Seafood firm identifies worker who was cooked to death

Bumble Bee Foods executives have identified the 62-year-old worker who was apparently cooked to death in an industrial oven at the company's processing plant in Santa Fe Springs last week.

The man was identified as Jose Melena, who had been on the job for six years.

“The entire Bumble Bee Foods family is saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Melena family,” Pat Menke, the company’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement.

But identifying the man is proving a tougher job for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, where Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said this weekend that they had not yet positively identified the worker who died at the seafood plant because of intense damage to his body. The man died as a result of being “trapped in a pressure cooker,” MacWillie said.

Authorities initially reported that there was some sort of “industrial accident” at the plant at 13100 Arctic Circle in Santa Fe Springs at about 7 a.m. Thursday, according to Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Division Chief Michael Crook.

Crook said paramedics rushed to the plant and pronounced the man dead as soon as they arrived. No one else was injured.

Bumble Bee Foods quickly halted work at the plant and in a statement said “operations … have been suspended to allow for a thorough investigation.” The company said this weekend that operations would resume Monday.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the death.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

 
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