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Mystery over Bumble Bee tuna worker cooked to death continues

October 17, 2012 |  4:15 am

 

Authorities are still trying to solve the mystery of how a Bumble Bee seafood worker was cooked to death in an industrial oven last week.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which is investigating the death, said it could take months to produce a final report on the accident.

Bumble Bee Foods executives have identified the worker as Jose Melena, 62. He had worked at the Sante Fe Springs site for six  years.

Officials told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that the Bumble Bee plant did not have a history of safety violations. 

Family members said Melena worked the late shift, placing tuna in large steamers. They said they were shocked by his death but said they believe it was part of God's plan.

His son, Antonio Melena, told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that 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 Melena 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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