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Bumble Bee worker 'didn't deserve that kind of death,' friend says

One by one, they made their way into the San Pedro All Year Gardens, reminiscing about their friend and fellow gardener Jose Melena, a tuna maker at Bumble Bee Foods, who was cooked to death in an industrial accident at the seafood plant.

“He was a good person; respectful, kind and loyal too,” said Luis Serenco. “Perhaps, out of all of us here, he was most centered.”

Melena was known for helping other gardeners at the San Pedro community farm, where Melena had a plot for nearly 20 years. 

Many said they were shocked when their heard news of the death of the man they affectionately called "Pedrito."

“Many of us took it pretty hard,” Serenco said.

Nearby, sitting on a plastic chair, shaking his left leg, Francisco Garcia of Long Beach, shook his head and cried.

“He didn’t deserve that kind of death,” Garcia said. 

Serenco and Garcia said they last saw Melena the weekend before the fatal accident.

“He was right there, sitting on that ladder,” Garcia said, wiping his tears.

Melena’s garden is reflective of the things that he liked: chili peppers, avocados, squash pears known as chayotes. There are sugar canes, an avocado and lemon trees.

His family said they will keep and maintain the plot.

At Melena’s house, his son, Pedro, said Bumble Bee has been cooperative with the family, giving them as much information as they can give out and promising to investigate.

“God has a purpose,” Pedro Melena said. “I don’t have hatred toward anybody."

Pedro Melena said his family is still shocked by the death of his father, who was in perfect health.

A private funeral is planned for Friday at the Green Hills Memorial Park in Palo Verdes. 

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-- Ruben Vives in San Pedro

 
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