The Fresno Bee has reported that an employee of Wonderful Citrus has died in Tulare County after a 600-pound blade from a wind machine came off in an industrial accident and hit him. The victim was identified as Richard Escobedo, 53, who lives in Ivanhoe.
According to the news report, the accident happened about 8:30 a.m. on January 3. The Tulare County Fire Department was called and Escobedo, who was badly injured but conscious, was transported by ambulance to Stone Corral Elementary School, the nearest helicopter landing zone. He was airlifted to Kaweah Delta Medical Center, where he later died.
It's understood that Escobedo who was working alone, was shutting down the wind machine when the accident happened. “It vibrated real bad; the propeller came off,” said the victim’s brother, George Escobedo of Visalia. “He tried to run” to avoid being hit by the falling blade but it struck him," he added.
The news report said that The Wonderful Company is investigating what caused the blade to come off the wind machine. The company issued the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened to report that last week one of our employees died of injuries sustained following a tragic accident at our Northern Farming Operations in Visalia,” the company said in a statement. “He was immediately rushed to the hospital, but later succumbed to his injuries.
“We are a family owned company and realize words cannot begin to express our sorrow to his family. Our thoughts are with them, and his colleagues.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees, and we will use every resource at our disposal to determine what caused this accident and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that it does not happen again.”