Workers at a south Phoenix factory made a tragic discovery Friday morning. They found their co-worker trapped in a piece of equipment, near 43rd Avenue and Lower Buckeye Rd.
The man died at Eagle Roofing Inc. He went missing Thursday, but no one knew he was in danger until Friday, when workers noticed an indicator light flashing on a piece of equipment. He was stuck under sand.
Firefighters spent 7 hours recovering the body of 30-year-old Jantu Medrano.
"Essentially this individual is buried under tons of sand," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Phoenix Police officers and firefighters explained that the worker was trapped in a hopper.
"It's like a giant funnel and this is a mixing batch plant where they mix several types of material onto conveyor belts for the appropriate portions to make clay roof tiles," said Phoenix Fire Captain Tony Mure.
Firefighters train for technical rescues at local factories and today they used those skills to get down the 18 feet machine -- only about 2 feet wide.
"Our firefighters are going to have to actually wear their protective equipment and rappel down on ropes with specialty gear. We're going to disperse the sand into other outlying hoppers and maybe even by hand shovel so we can get down to the body," said Mure.
They removed Medrano's body with a harness similar to what is used during a mountain rescue. It's not clear how the man ended up in the hopper, but at this point police believe it was accidental.
"There are protective barriers to keep humans from accidental tripping and falling, but it's always dangerous, any type of industrial work you have to be alert to your surroundings at all times."
The roofing company has declined to make a comment on his death at this time. OSHA is investigating.