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Bumble Bee worker cooked in oven a 'horrendous tragedy'

October 15, 2012 | 11:54 am

State officials were investigating the case of a Bumble Bee seafood worker who was cooked to death in an industrial oven last week.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is leading the investigation into the death at the Santa Fe Springs facility.

"This is a horrendous tragedy," California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman Erika Monterroza told the Whittier Daily News. "Once all the facts are gathered, at that point a determination will be made if California health and safety regulations were violated."

Bumble Bee Foods executives have identified the worker as Jose Melena, 62. He had worked there for six years.

His son, Antonio Melena, told KCBS-TV the family is still trying to come to terms with what happened.

“It’s hard to believe what’s going on and what’s happening. It’s just been really tough," the son said. “He was just grateful he had a job, that he could pay his bills and provide food for his family.”

Authorities initially reported that there was some sort of “industrial accident” at the plant in the 13100 block of Arctic Circle 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.

“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.  

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— Ari Bloomekatz and Shelby Grad

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