Farm workers killed, injured by electricity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farm workers killed, injured by electricity

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 June 15, 2006

Mitchell County --  Federal investigators are now looking into a deadly accident on a south Georgia farm.

Two migrant workers were killed and four others were injured when a piece of farm equipment went tragically off track.  They were stacking corn on a portable platform called a 'mule train' when it struck Georgia Power transmission lines strung over a field near Hopeful.

The cornfield where two Haitian workers lost their lives sat empty today, the mule train remains exactly where it stopped below the power lines.

Yesterday, this field was a much different scene. "There was a lot of people just running around, I saw some people on the ground, several people on the ground," says Investigator Tim Williamson of the Mitchell Co. Sheriff's Office.

Migrant workers who arrived in Mitchell County at the beginning of May were harvesting sweet corn in this field when the train struck a 4,600 volt Georgia Power Transmission line.  

"Part of the vehicle got hung up in a wire. We had two deceased and then we had four injuries," said Williamson.  

There were many workers on the mule train, but it was the workers on the ground touching the machine when it touched the wires that were shocked.  

The Sheriff's office spent today trying to contact the Florida company who employs the workers and an investigation is ongoing.  "My understanding was that OSHA was to be there today, and then I spoke with two gentlemen from the US Department of Labor this morning,"  said Williamson.  

The Haitian workers were employed by Hopeful Harvest Incorporated in Hopeful and were brought to Mitchell County from Palm Beach County, Florida. A company spokesman would not comment when we asked if the migrants were in the country legally.

The Sheriff's Department is calling this incident an accidental electrocution, and is still attempting to verify the names of the workers.

Three of the workers were injured so severely that they were transferred to the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta.

Dr. Dominic Monda of Archbold Memorial Hospital E.R. said, "We might see an entrance and exit wound where the current went in and went out and it would cause damage to the muscles and the nerves of the arm which often is apparent initially because it takes some hours for the swelling to develop."

One of the injured migrant workers was treated at Mitchell County Hopsital. The three who were treated at Archbold were transferred to Augusta for further observation.

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