Teen crushed to death while cleaning dough mixer

March 28, 2002

MOUNT ARLINGTON, N.J. -- A teenager was crushed to death last Sunday when he was pulled into an industrial-size spiral mixer while cleaning it.

The report, published by Reuters, said Elmer Castellano, 16, of Netcong, N.J. was caught in the machine while cleaning it in the back of Frank's Pizza shop. The owner and other employees ran to Castellano's aid when they heard his screams, but they arrived too late to help him.

"He was definitely pulled into the machine and crushed by the mechanism," said Capt. Christopher Linne, a spokesman for the Morris County Prosecutor's office. "It's a big giant bowl with arms that spin in the opposite direction and when he got caught, he was pinned inside."

The teenager was pronounced dead from traumatic asphyxiation less than two hours later.

Exactly how Castellano was pulled into the mixer isn't clear. It's believed his hand or clothing may have gotten snagged on its paddles, but how the machine was turned on is a mystery.

Prosecutors have ruled the incident an accident and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating.

According to a cousin of Castellano's, who also lives in New Jersey, the Guatemalan teen was sending his pay back to his farm family in Chiquimula.

Topics: Independent Operation

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