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Feds launch probe after 16-year-old boy dies at Mississippi poultry plant

AP Photo/Erin Hooley, File
FILE – Red Star chickens feed in their coop, Jan. 10, 2023, at Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview, Ill. The ongoing bird flu outbreak has cost the U.S. government roughly $661 million and added to consumers’ pain at the grocery store after more than 58 million birds were slaughtered to limit the spread of the…

Federal authorities confirmed Tuesday that they are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy at a poultry plant in Mississippi.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration and Wage and Hour Division have both “opened inspections” at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg in the wake of the Friday incident, according to a DOL spokesperson.

The victim has been identified as Duvan Tomas Perez, originally from Guatemala, by local authorities and a family member, according to NBC News, which noted that workers under the age of 18 are not allowed to work in poultry plants for safety reasons.

Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem told NBC that Perez’s death was due to equipment at the plant, and that his autopsy results will be released Wednesday.

A fellow worker at the plant, on duty at the time of the incident, reportedly said he heard Perez scream for help, but that it was too late. 

“Two times he began to scream, ‘Help! Help!’” the worker said. “I knew he had died,” they added.

The Hill has reached out to Mar-Jac Poultry for comment.

“Any issues identified in the investigation will be corrected immediately,” Joe Colee, the manager of the facility, told NBC.

“We strive daily to work as safely as possible and are truly devastated whenever an employee is injured,” Colee added.

The death is reportedly the second at the Hattiesburg Mar-Jac in less than three years.

Tags Department of Labor Mar-Jac Poultry Mississippi osha poultry plant Wage and Hour Division

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