Local News

Two Workers Dead After Suspected CO Poisoning Inside Wilson Plant

Posted February 17, 2007
Updated February 18, 2007

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— Two contractors working at a Wilson plant died Saturday afternoon of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning after collapsing inside the facility.

According to City of Wilson spokesman Brian Bowman, a team of six contractors from Wheeler Electric were cutting concrete inside Kidde Aerospace and Defense at 4200 Airport Drive West early Saturday afternoon when Kidde workers found Ethan Jones and Melton Johnson about 12:30 p.m. They were rushed to Wilson Medical Center, where they later died.

Testing later showed carbon monoxide levels at more than 500 parts per million in the area where Jones and Johnson were working. That's 50 times more than what emergency officials consider safe.

"Carbon monoxide in general is a silent killer. You can't taste it, you can't smell it," Wilson Fire and Rescue Commander Mike Brown said.

North Carolina Department of Labor spokesman Juan Santos said investigators are looking into the possibility that the two men died of carbon monoxide poisoning after sealing off a room and turning on a gas-powered saw.

Officials said about 40 people were inside the Kidde plant when the accident occurred. Wilson Medical Center officials said 50 people were transported there as a precautionary measure, but they were treated and released.

"It was scary" said contractor Herbert Lee, who was amongst those taken to the hospital. "And you're there working too, almost in the same (part of the) building, and something like that, you've got to be scared."

Kidde spokesman Silvio Albino released a statement to WRAL late Saturday afternoon, saying company officials were extending their thoughts and prayers to Jones and Johnson's families. Albino said the company is cooperating with the investigation into the poisoning, but would not comment further about the incident.

Emergency officials shut down the plant and began clearing the air inside with industrial fans after the accident. Officials with the North Carolina Department of Labor arrived at the plant late Saturday afternoon to begin an investigation into the cause of the suspected poisoning. The plant is expected to reopen on Monday.
16 Comments

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  • lil red Feb 18, 2007

    i , myself am a kidde employee, and i have been there a while. this was a terrible accident and beleive me, our saftey guys are on top of things. but why this incident happened,, is beyond me. it shouldnt have happened and i can only pray for those two men and there families. may God be with u in your time of sorrow. knowing the kidde like i do, i am sure there will be some kind of memorial service for these two young men, and again, may God be with there families

  • cm258 Feb 18, 2007

    what a shame, I worked for a contractor for three years and there are air quality alarms for rent of sale for confined spaces. I pray for the family of the deceased and for the company to remember the victems. Take precautions, it is your family that you must care for. May God Bless You In Your Journey Home.

  • LIR Feb 18, 2007

    My prayers goes out to the families. My God be with you, and help you through your time of need.

  • Monkey Love Feb 17, 2007

    Mondolab, I see you are getting pounded on here by others. I myself said earlier that these places should have CO alarms and such. Although you may not hear these alarms, some are equipped with flashing lights like you would see in a Wal Mart or any other place to alert people of a certain danger. Now can you say duh??

  • woody Feb 17, 2007

    people get real
    we will never live in a time where everything will be perfect
    we are not perfect and every time i read this should not have happened i get just sick
    give it a break
    we dont live in glass bubbles

  • mattlin Feb 17, 2007

    How can anyone be so thoughtless as to put up the comment referring to "DUH?" and "common sense". I am saddened that this person could be so selfish and show such a lack of respect to the families that have suffered such a great loss. As a friend of the family to one of the victims i do ask that everyone lift up prayers.

  • firecaptain2000 Feb 17, 2007

    CO sickness and deaths are easily preventable which truly makes this a tragedy. Because CO is odorless and colorless no one recognizes they are being seduced into a deep sleep by this gas. Also it's quite flammable. Action levels for CO are 9 ppm (parts per million) and 35 ppm. At 35 ppm OSHA regulations allow a worker to be exposed to CO at levels no greater than 35 ppm, for a maximum of 8 hours. Obviously these men were exposed to much higher levels. If you want more information about CO here is a website that I think would be most informative: http://www.bacharach-training.com/health_affects_of_carbon_monoxid.htm

  • bostonfox1 Feb 17, 2007

    DUH IS A AWFUL THING TO SAY TO A MISTAKE THAT TURNED DEADLY,
    COLD HEARTED, HOW WOULD U LIKE ONE OF YOUR FAIMLY MEMBERS TO DO THE SAME THING AND DIES AND THE PUBLIC SAYS TO YOU "DUH"
    HOW ABOUT SAYING SOMETHING LIKE MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO EVERYONE INVOLVED" PLEASE HAVE A HEART FOR THOSE WHO WERE INVOLVED, ITS A TERRIBLE THING..

  • owens5 Feb 17, 2007

    How dare someone come on here with such a comment as DUH or common sense! If you cant reach out with prayer then dont say anything at all. It seems to me you are not using common sense to say things like that especially when the families and co-workers may be looking up here to see who has reached out to them just for some comfort.

  • Mom2One Feb 17, 2007

    My mom works at this plant and was one of the first responders that helped give CPR, she said it was just a really bad scene. That she had never seen anything like it before. The two guys that died were young. My prayers go out to the familys of these two men, and the employees of Kidde that gave it all they had to save their lives.

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