The Camden company where a worker died after falling into a large vat of melting chocolate was operating without proper permits, according to Camden's code enforcement director.
Vincent Smith, Jr., 29, was hired recently at Lyons and Sons, a processing plant that melts and mixes chocolates. On Wednesday, he was on a platform about nine feet high and just above a tank of hot, melting chocolate. Smith was throwing solid chocolate into that tank when he fell in.
"He fell into the vat himself, somehow. There are paddles called agitators that are moving inside the vats. He was hit by one of them before someone could hit the shutoff valve," said Camden County Prosecutor Jason Laughlin.
A co-worker did shut the machine off and two others tried to pull Smith out, but everything happened so fast, they were not able to save him. His family rushed over to the processing plant to find out Smith had already been pronounced dead.
"They just said there was an accident at the job and I asked him what happened and they said that he slipped," said the victim's aunt, Teresa Smith.
Smith's death was ruled accidental by local authorities and there was "no suggestion of foul play," said Laughlin.
Lyons and Sons was only licensed to store cocoa beans at their Camden facility. They failed to renew a "certificate of occupancy" with the city back in 1996 and should not be operating any type of business, said Iraida Afanador, director of Code Enforcement. The city issued a summons to the company.
Accident investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are also at the facility looking at the company's safety procedures as part of a routine investigation.