A 16-year-old boy has become the third worker to die at a poultry plant in Mississippi in three years – despite laws prohibiting the factory from employing anyone under 18, due to dangerous work conditions.
Duvan Tomas Perez died at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg on Friday after he got caught in a machine he was cleaning. The middle schooler, who migrated to the US from Guatemala six years ago, was heard screaming for help by co-workers.
The Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have reportedly launched investigations. And Mar-Jac could face more than $30,000 in fines if found guilty of violating Mississippi’s child labor laws, which forbid children under 18 from working at poultry plants.
Forest County Coroner Butch Benedict has said an autopsy report, revealing how Duvan died, will be released next week. The boy’s devastated family say he “was generous, smiley and very fun and very responsible at work.”
Duvan’s death is the third at the plant since 2020. A 33-year-old man died from injuries he sustained while working at Mar-Jac in 2020.
And, in 2021, a 48-year-old died after being injured by heavy equipment at the plant. At the time, Mar-Jac Poultry plant manager Joe Colee told NBC: “Our employees are our most valuable asset and safety is our number one priority.
“We strive daily to work as safely as possible and are truly devastated whenever an employee is injured. Any issues identified in the investigation will be corrected immediately.”