Horrific death at LA seafood plant

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SANTA FE SPRINGS (CNS) – A seafood plant in Santa Fe Springs is expected to resume operations Monday, as Cal-OSHA conducts an investigation into why an employee died when he was cooked in an oven.

About 7 a.m. Thursday, Whittier police received a 911 call from Bumble Bee Seafoods regarding an industrial accident involving an employee, according to police reports.  Officers pronounced Jose Melena, 62, dead at the scene. He had worked there six years, police said.

Erika Monterroza of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said the initial investigation indicated that Melena was fatally injured when he was cooked in an oven. The cooking device was described as “steamer machine.”  It was unclear how Melena ended up inside the industrial cooker.

By Cal-OSHA policy, an investigation is to be completed within six months, which will include visits to the plant, extensive interviews and a review of company safety documentation. A finding of violations would result in civil penalties — and possible criminal charges, if warranted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“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,” said Pat Menke, Bumble Bee Foods vice president of human resources, in a statement.

“Operations at Bumble Bee Foods’ Santa Fe Springs processing plant have been suspended since (Thursday) morning to allow for a thorough investigation,” Menke said. “We expect to be able to resume operations on Monday.”

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