Local News

Investigators Look for Clues in Fatal Plant Accident

Posted February 18, 2007
Updated February 19, 2007

— A Wilson plant was dark and quiet Sunday as investigators tried to piece together what caused an accident that killed two workers Saturday.

Kidde Aerospace and Defense Company decided to keep the plant closed until Monday as investigators with the state Department of Labor began to interview everyone who was there when contractors Ethan Jones and Milton Johnson collapsed of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning early Saturday afternoon.

What happened in the minutes before the toxic fumes overcame Jones and Johnson was under scrutiny. Tests showed that carbon monoxide levels of more than 500 parts per million were found in the area where they were cutting concrete before they became ill. That level is 50 times more than what emergency officials consider safe.

Investigators said they are looking into early reports from Wilson emergency workers that the two contractors employed by Wheeler Electric Company may have sealed off a room and possibly turned on a gas-powered saw before their collapse.

Wheeler Electric owner Davis Wheeler said Saturday that the two men were installing electrical wiring beneath a concrete floor as part of a larger expansion project at the Wilson plant.

Investigators also said they plan to look into employee training for Wheeler Electric employees who were working inside the Kidde plant. If irregularities or a violation of work safety rules are discovered, the Department of Labor may issue citations.

Officials with Wheeler Electrical Company were unavailable for comment on Sunday.

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  • North Carolina Native Feb 19, 2007

    It's time for them to invest in some nice canary's ...

    My sympathies to the mens families.

  • Fence Straddler Feb 19, 2007

    No finger pointing here!
    I just feel sorry for the families involved with the passing of their loved ones.

    (Ethan Jones and Melton Johnson may you "Rest-In-Peace")

  • jasttn Feb 18, 2007

    Let's do stick with facts at this point. A terrible thing to happen to anyone and my heart goes out to all involved.

  • camper Feb 18, 2007

    This is a horrible situation and there are so many people involved- the families, the co-workers, the contractors, employees of Kidde. This is not a time to be pointing fingers. You don't know that Wheeler Electric didn't have an overseer. "Stick to the facts, please. Just the facts."

  • callieg Feb 18, 2007

    My step mom works at Kidde and I saw first hand the fear it had on her that day. All the employees take CPR training as far as I know and she said it is a very safe environment at Kidde. Wheeler should have had an overseer, some one more experianced. I prayed for the families.