Bumble Bee tuna plant employee dies after accidentally being cooked in oven

By Brian Day

A seafood plant employee died Thursday after he was cooked in an oven in an industrial accident, authorities said Friday. Bumble Bee Foods officials identified the man as Jose Melena, a 6-year employee of the business.

He was 62 years old, according to Whittier police. The incident took place shortly before 7 a.m. at Bumble Bee Foods, 13100 Arctic Circle, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.

The initial investigation indicated that, “he was fatally injured when he was cooked in an oven,” California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman Erika Monterroza said. Cal-OSHA has launched an investigation into the the circumstances of what officials are calling an accident.

The cooking device that injured the man was described in coroner’s documents as a “steamer machine,” Dietz said.

It was unclear how the man ended up inside the industrial cooker. “This is a horrendous tragedy,” Monterroza said. Rescuers who responded to a 9-1-1 call pronounced the man dead at the scene, police said.

In a written statement, Bumble Bee Foods vice president of human resources Pat Menke expressed condolences to Melena’s family.

“The entire Bumble Bee Foods family is saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Melena family,” he said.

“Operations at Bumble Bee Foods’ Santa Fe Springs processing plant have been suspended since yesterday morning to allow for a thorough investigation,” Menke said. “We expect to be able to resume operations on Monday.”

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