Police ID victim of Johnston industrial accident

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Johnston police, the state medical examiner and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating a deadly industrial accident in the town.

Police were called to J.R. Vinagro on Plainfield Pike shortly after 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Deputy Chief Daniel O. Parrillo confirmed the victim, now identified as Darwin Perez, 22, has died.

Police said Perez was working with a belt-driven sorting and crushing machine when the accident occurred. They said he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said an autopsy will be performed Wednesday morning to determine the exact cause of death.

OSHA told Eyewitness News investigators are currently taking statements and photos. They have 180 days to complete the investigation. If there was a violation of federal standards, the company can receive citations or monetary penalties; OSHA can also determine whether or not the company could’ve prevented the accident.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena said J.R. Vinagro contracts with the town for trash removal, calling them a reputable company with a long history in the town.

“Whenever you have an industrial complex there’s a chance for potential injury, whatever safety guards are in place,” Polisena said Tuesday. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family.”

Eyewitness News looked into J.R. Vinagro’s safety record, and an OSHA official confirmed they have one other open investigation from a Nov. 2015 incident involving the amputation of a finger. OSHA’s investigation into that incident is set to be complete by May.

OSHA also said the company was fined $3,500 in 2014 for a lack of protective equipment. While it was listed as a serious violation on OSHA’s website, the agency said it has since been downgraded to “other than serious.”

J.R. Vinagro also passed four recent inspections with no violations.

The company released the following statement to Eyewitness News on Tuesday.

Our entire company is devastated by today’s event. During this time of great loss, our deepest condolences are with our team member, his family and friends. The safety of our team members is always our number one priority, and we are cooperating fully with local and federal agencies with the investigation of this tragedy.”

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