GAINESVILLE, GA. — Following autopsies by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Hall County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO) in Gainesville, Ga. confirmed that asphyxiation was the cause of death of six poultry workers who died on Jan. 28 following a liquid nitrogen leak at the Foundation Food Group plant.
HCSO said that after the incident, the bodies were transported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.
The sheriff’s office identified the people as Jose DeJesus Elias-Cabrera, 45, of Gainesville; Corey Alan Murphy, 35, of Clermont; Nelly Perez-Rafael, 28, of Gainesville; Saulo Suarez-Bernal, 41, of Dawsonville; Victor Vellez , 38, of Gainesville and Edgar Vera-Garcia, 28, of Gainesville.
Federal, state and local officials are still investigating the cause of the leak and other aspects of the incident.
In February, US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) determined that unplanned maintenance was being conducted on a new cryogenic freezing system at the facility when the incident occurred.
A Gainesville Relief Fund was set up to provide financial support to the victims’ families by the Northeast Georgia Latino Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), Georgia Poultry Federation (GPF), US Poultry Foundation (USPF) and Foundation Food Group. Funds will be collected through the US Poultry & Egg Harold E. Ford Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. Foundation Food Group is also providing counseling services for their employees.
“As our community continues to heal, we extend our continued sympathies and prayers to the families and friends of those lost,” Foundation Food Group said in a statement on its website. “We express gratitude for the support received from our dedicated customers, industry suppliers, community and industry relief organizations and especially, from our valued team members who partner with us to produce the best quality products every single day.”