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Bumble Bee plant reopens after worker killed in oven; family speaks out

October 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dressed in black, Jose Melena's widow cries for her husband of more than 40 years, gone in a flash after an accident in an industrial oven at Bumble Bee Foods where he worked.

"He left happy. I'm grateful with God that even though it's tough for us, but I know that he is with him," said the victim's daughter Sara Melena.

Sara remembers her father as a smiling provider and family man who made everybody laugh and loved to garden. She says her father worked at Bumble Bee for seven years. They just celebrated his 62nd birthday last week.

Authorities initially reported there was some sort of industrial accident at the plant last Thursday morning. Paramedics rushed to the plant and pronounced Melena dead as soon as they arrived.

Cal/OSHA is investigating the incident. While the autopsy is not complete, the coroner's office says Melena died in a device described as a pressure cooker.

Bumble Bee has not said what exactly happened, but released a statement that said, "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. It remains our first priority to support and assist the Melena family during this very difficult time."

The family says they still have not received an explanation of what happened. But despite the horrible nature of her father's death, Sara Melena says she has nothing but good memories.

"He didn't have a lot of money or any of that, but he would always say, 'I would do anything to give you guys what you need,' so that gives me peace," she said.

The plant reopened on Monday. The investigation into what happened continues. Jose Melena leaves behind six children and seven grandchildren.

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