Six victims identified after deadly nitrogen leak at Georgia food processing plant – NBC News

Authorities on Friday released the names of the six people who were killed after liquid nitrogen leaked at a Georgia food processing plant Thursday.

The dead, all employees of Foundation Food Group in Gainesville, were identified as Jose DeJesus Elias-Cabrera, 45; Corey Alan Murphy, 35; Nelly Perez-Rafael, 28; Saulo Suarez-Bernal, 41; Victor Vellez, 38; and Edgar Vera-Garcia, 28, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office announced.

Four of the victims lived in Gainesville, while Murphy and Suarez-Bernal were from the nearby towns of Clermont and Dawsonville, respectively. Perez-Rafael was the only woman among the victims.

There was no immediate cause of death listed for the six, pending autopsies performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the sheriff said.

The cause of Thursday’s deadly workplace incident, about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta, is being investigated by the sheriff’s office, the fire department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, officials said.

Five of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities. The sixth victim, one of 12 people rushed to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, died at the hospital.

Four people were still there by midday Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said. Three were in critical condition and one was listed as fair, according to the official.

While Foundation Food Group Vice President Nicholas Ancrum declined to discuss the cause of the accident in detail on Thursday, he said “preliminary indications are that a nitrogen line ruptured inside the facility.”

Poultry plants use refrigeration systems that often include liquid nitrogen, which vaporizes into an odorless gas capable of displacing oxygen when leaked.

Since 2017, OSHA has inspected or investigated complaints involving the Gainesville plant, which has been operated by Foundation Food Group and Prime Pak Foods Inc., records showed.

A Foundation Food Group spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Newly elected U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who courted Latino voters in his upset victory earlier this month, pledged to “help the workers, their families, and the Gainesville community heal.”

“My prayers and sympathies are with the families of those who lost loved ones and the people who were harmed today in this awful incident,” he said in a statement Thursday night.

Suzanne Gamboa contributed.

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