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Watsonville man killed in industrial accident at Monterey Mushrooms

Man killed at Monterey Mushrooms on Thursday was nearing retirement


UPDATE 2/14/2020 4:15 p.m. The man who died in an industrial accident Thursday at the Monterey Mushrooms facility in Royal Oaks is identified as 62-year-old Jose Fierros from Watsonville.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office said he was found dead in a piece of equipment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Fierros died while working in a hopper.

Lauro Barahas with United Farm Workers said the organization is doing its own investigation because it represents the workers.

Barajas said UFW represents about 100 workers at the Monterey Mushrooms facility.

OSHA is investigating the incident and working to identify the cause. There were three complaints in 2018 against Monterey Mushrooms that OSHA looked into. OSHA tells KION that a worker complained of poor communication about safety procedures, resulting in a citation. There was another safety complaint that OSHA did not give a citation for, and a citation was issued for a fatality in July 2018.

PREVIOUS STORY: A man has died in an industrial accident at Monterey Mushrooms on Maher Road, according to the Monterey Conty Sheriff's Office.

The male soil operator who died has not been identified yet. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating and said he was killed while working inside a hopper. During the investigation, OSHA said it will work to identify the cause of the incident and correct workplace safety violations.

Monterey Mushrooms released a statement to KION in response to the worker's death.

"We are saddened by the loss of a Monterey Mushrooms team member at our Royal Oaks farm yesterday. We are working closely with state and local authorities in the on-going investigation of this unfortunate incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the entire Monterey Mushrooms family," the statement said.

A KION search of OSHA records show this is the third worker death in less than three years at Monterey Mushrooms facilities.

In July 2018, 61-year-old Mark Donald Odle of Aromas was killed at the same Royals Oaks location when a tractor front end loader ran him over.

According to an OSHA inspection, Odle was walking across the composting yard when the tractor that was hauling compost hit him.

At the time of the incident in 2018, KION was informed that there was an investigation ongoing into the facility after a complaint. The violation is still under contest, according to OSHA records.

OSHA also shows a violation was found at Monterey Mushrooms' Madisonville, Texas location for a worker death in 2017. On December 28th, 2017, OSHA reports that an employee was inspecting mushrooms on a rack more than seven feet high. She died after falling and hitting her head on the concrete floor.

This is a developing story.

Monterey County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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