Local News

ConAgra workers get free tickets to Mudcats game

Posted June 24, 2009 11:48 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2009 12:07 a.m. EDT

— Employees of a Garner food plant where an explosion killed three people and injured dozens of coworkers were recognized Wednesday evening at a Carolina Mudcats game.

Seats for Wednesday's minor league baseball game were free for ConAgra Foods employees and their families. A moment of silence was held to remember those who died in the June 9 blast.

"Just about every door where we were at was blown open,” ConAgra employee Anthony Sanders said as he recalled the blast.

Sanders said taking his children to see the Mudcats take on the Jacksonville Suns helped get his mind off the explosion.

"If we can do something back for the community, that is what it is all about,” Mudcats owner Steve Bryant said.

Bryant handed out 2,500 free passes to ConAgra employees. The Suns defeated the Mudcats 10-5 at Five County Stadium.

Clean up at plant continues

Investigators have determined that a natural gas leak caused the explosion, which blew out a wall of the 425,000-square-foot plant and punched holes in the roof.

"There is a lot of work to do. We have to go back and clean the plant and get it ready for food-grade operation. So that takes a lot of work,” ConAgra plant manager Mark Rauenzahn said.

Barbara McLean Spears, 43, of Dunn; Rachel Mae Poston-Pulley, 67, of Clayton; and Louis Junior Watson, 33, of Clayton, died in the blast.

Three of the injured workers remain in critical condition in the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Two other workers are also still in the hospital.