Francisca R. Gomez, 63, was working at the Crookham Co. plant when her hair got caught in a piece of machinery, pulling her against the machine, Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris said Thursday.
Gomez died at the scene about 3 p.m. Wednesday from blood loss and traumatic asphyxia, DeGeus-Morris said. An autopsy was conducted Thursday afternoon.
The woman was apparently working alone when the accident happened, but she was discovered just moments later, DeGeus-Morris said. Paramedics responded but were unable to save her.
“It was a tragic accident,” DeGeus-Morris said.
Information was not available Thursday about whether the machinery was processing seeds at the time of the accident or whether it was being serviced or cleaned. The coroner said she didn’t know what type of machine was involved, and Caldwell police referred inquiries to the coroner’s office.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators were on the scene Thursday, and daily operations at the plant were suspended. Calls to Crookham offices reached a message that company representatives were “temporarily unavailable.”
Calls to OSHA’s Boise office were not returned Thursday, but an agency spokesman issued a written statement to KIVI-TV, saying “we cannot discuss the specifics of an open investigation. It is important that we do a thorough investigation. It may take several months for our findings.”
“It is every employer’s obligation to ensure workers are protected from injury by dangerous equipment,” the statement continued. “This includes ensuring appropriate guards are in place, and when servicing and maintenance is occurring, that the equipment is shut down and locked out to prevent equipment from starting.”
Crookham Co. is a family-owned agribusiness, begun in 1911, that specializes in developing strains of sweet corn, popcorn and onion seeds. The company processes seeds at its plant at 301 Warehouse Ave., just off Simplot Boulevard near Centennial Way.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447