A Lenoir man was critically injured in an accident at a factory in Hudson last week, and the N.C. Department of Labor is investigating.
Larry “Allen” Powell, 49, was threading materials through a machine at Sealed Air on Dec. 29 about 3:30 a.m. when he got sucked into the machine “in about a sixteenth of a second,” and it pulled him in to his waist and would not release him, said his niece, Danielle Burfine.
Burfine said she was told by another employee that Powell was trapped in the machine “about 45 minutes to an hour,” and when medical workers were finally able to release him, his heart stopped.
“They performed CPR on him for over 10 minutes before they got the heart beating again,” she said.
Powell was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he remained on life support on Monday.
“He just got married to the love of his life two months ago. They just bought a house,” Burfine said. “He was happy and in love.”
She said that Powell has worked at Sealed Air for 17 years.
“He was on the safety team up until the day of the accident. He was all about safety,” she said. “He’s the guy who would tell somebody to stop, ‘You’re not being safe doing it this way.’ ”
Burfine said that Powell’s family wants an investigation into whether Sealed Air is following safety protocols.
“I would like a full investigation into the safety of the workings at Sealed Air,” she said. “And we’d like to know why there wasn’t a release on that machine.”
Sealed Air officials could not be reached for comment, but they sent a statement to WSOC-TV confirming only that “an incident involving an employee” had occurred at their Hudson facility on Dec. 29.
The N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division is investigating. It said in a statement that the investigation “will seek to determine if any occupational safety and health standards were violated and/or contributed to the accident, so we would not speculate at this point in the investigation whether or not any standards were violated.”
Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.