A 62-year-old seafood plant worker was cooked to death in an industrial accident in Southern California, authorities said Friday.
The Whittier Daily News reported that the worker, identified as Jose Melena, had been a six-year employee of Bumble Bee Foods in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. The incident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday, police said.
Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said initial findings indicated “he was fatally injured when he was cooked in an oven.” It was unclear how precisely the man ended up in the industrial cooking device, described as a “steamer machine.”
The state agency has launched an investigation; officials are calling it an accident, according to the Daily News.
“This is a horrendous tragedy,” Monterroza said.
Bumble Bee Foods Vice President of Human Resources Pat Menke expressed condolences to Melena’s family. Operations at the processing plant are on hold until Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Monterroza said a formal investigation would take about six months and include site visits and extensive interviews.
“Once all of the facts are gathered, at that point, a determination will be made if California health and safety regulations were violated,” she said.
Any violations would result in civil penalties, the Daily News reported; the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will determine whether any criminal charges are appropriate.