Local News

Wilson Plant Reopens After 2 Workers Die

Posted February 19, 2007 6:46 a.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2007 4:31 p.m. EST

— 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.