Local News

Wilson Plant Reopens After 2 Workers Die

Posted February 19, 2007

— A Wilson plant is open for the first time since two workers died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.

A representative with Kidde Aerospace and Defense said Monday that officials have checked the air quality inside the building multiple time and the readings are normal.

Early Saturday morning, Ethan Jones and Milton Johnson were found unconscious inside a room inside the building. Both men were employees of the Wheeler Electrical Co., who was hired to help finish an expansion project. Officials said the two men were installing electrical wires beneath a concrete floor.

Emergency crews said the two men may have been overcome by toxic fumes after sealing off a room and turning on a gas-powered saw.

Dozens of employees inside the plant at the time of the incident were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Tests showed carbon monoxide levels inside the building were nearly 50 times the normal level just minutes after the two men were found unconscious.

Despite the high levels of carbon monoxide, no one else inside the building was injured. There are 550 employees at the Kidde Aerospace and Defense facility in Wilson.

The state Department of Labor is conducting its own investigation into the incident. Officials are also questioning the safety training procedures of Wheeler Electrical.

The company's owner, Davis Wheeler, said he and the other employees were too upset to talk about the accident on Monday. When asked about Jones and Johnson, he told WRAL: "These two men were great workers, great friends. They were like family to all of us, and we're all just devastated by what happened."

Wheeler said all of his employees are well trained and called the incident a terrible accident in which, "everything that could have gone wrong went wrong."

Jones' family members declined comment to WRAL Monday, but said he was married with no kids. The Wilson Daily Times quoted a family member saying Johnson was married with a 9-year-old son and 8-year-old step-daughter.

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  • Thomas Jefferson Feb 19, 2007

    What's up with all the people that jumped on WildWilly for pointing out that they operated a gas-powered saw improperly? Hmm?

  • callieg Feb 19, 2007

    A lot of people are not experienced enough with fumes and ventilation procedures. CO or oil paints, Kilz primer and other things as such need to be well rehearsed in the safety of employers. It should have been supervised, these men should have not lost their lives. Fumes and ventilation procedures should be made mandatory with any line of employment. It's not like it will cost a fortune for this info!

  • CountryGal Feb 19, 2007

    May god be with all that were involved.

  • Safety Dave Feb 19, 2007

    It is common in construction to use gasoline and diesel fueled equipment indoors.
    Ventilation is always required as is air quality monitoring.
    Training for employees in recognition of safe/unsafe work conditions is also required.
    Someone appears to have seriously dropped the ball here.

  • Pack Rules Feb 19, 2007

    Well, I am a safety director and this is a heads up for all business's. Events like this cause the NCDOL/OSHA to go crazy and check everything with a fine-toothed comb. A "workplace fatality" will cause business to go away. The operatin of a gas powered saw must be accomadated with proper ventalation. Some heads are gonna roll.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Feb 19, 2007

    It's strange the two workers didn't know what would happen if they used the gas powered saw inside the building. Bet OSHA's going to look into this.
    Praying for their loved ones and for those still recovering.
    God bless.
    Rev. RB

  • Mad Baumer Feb 19, 2007

    I would think all precautions should be used when operating any type of gas powered tools. They are not recommended for indoor use.

  • packandcanesfan Feb 19, 2007

    Very sad. I am glad the others will be ok. Is it pretty common to use a gas-powered tool inside?