Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Death by chocolate

It was reported today that Vincent Smith II, a 29-year-old temporary worker at a processing plant in Camden, New Jersey, was killed when he fell into a vat of chocolate destined to become Hershey's candy. The vat was 8 feet deep and the mixture into which he was dropping solid chunks of pure chocolate was heated to 120 degrees when he slipped and was struck by one of the stirring paddles. His 3 coworkers immediately turned off the machine and attempted to rescue him, but he died on the scene. His body was removed by firefighters and an autopsy determined that his death was caused by asphyxiation. Other accidents in sweets factories - not all of them fatal - follow:
  • An unnamed trucker died in June 2009 at the Hagerstown, Maryland, Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream plant when he fell from the truck's tank and hit his head while checking the load of chocolate topping he was delivering.
  • Krzysztof Pruszewicz, 20, was killed in Brodnica, Poland, in April 2008 when he fell into the vat of chocolate he was mixing and was crushed.
  • A 35-year-old female worker lost her right hand in April 2007 at a chocolate factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when she stuck it into a machine that was still running; surgeons attempted to reattach the hand, but the report does not indicate if they were successful.
  • Donovan Garcia (pictured), 21, survived slipping into a 110-degree chocolate vat at the same factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2006, but was stuck for 2 hours.
  • An 18-month-old infant had her left hand severed above the wrist in May 2006 while touring a candy factory with her family in Kalihi, Hawaii, when it got stuck in a conveyor belt.
  • Yoni Cordon, 19, drowned in July 2002 at a factory in Hatfield Township, New Jersey, after falling unnoticed into a 1,200-gallon vat of melted chocolate.
Researching this post on-line was hampered by two things: the remarkable number of punning headlines about this unfortunate accident and the interspersed recipes for Death by Chocolate. Now I'm not sure that's such a funny name for a dessert...

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