SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA --The seafood plant in Santa Fe Springs resumed operations Monday amid a continuing Cal-OSHA investigation into the death of an employee who ended up in an oven, according to company officials who closed the plant on Saturday.
About 7 a.m. Thursday, Whittier police received a 911 call from Bumble Bee Foods about an industrial accident involving an employee, according to police reports.
Bumble Bee Foods' products are sold throughout Orange County in supermarkets such as Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, and Stater Bros.
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 cooked to death 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 violation would result in civil penalties and possible criminal charges.
"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.''
--City News Service