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Update: Fatal accident at Pactiv Evergreen facility in Arkansas

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (From news reports) -- A 44-year-old maintenance worker died when a machine he was working on re-engaged Friday, March 18, at Pactiv Evergreen/Evergreen Packaging in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, said officials at the Jefferson County sheriff's office.

Charles Allen Watt, a maintenance worker, was working on a machine when it engaged at 8:24 a.m., seriously injuring him, according to witnesses who spoke to the sheriff's office. He was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center's emergency room, where he died a few hours later.

When Sheriff's Deputy Deyonta Jones arrived at the hospital, she was met by Terry Hughes, the plant's health and safety manager, who explained that Watt, a maintenance worker, was working on a machine called a "kicker" when the machine "unexpectedly activated" and struck him, "causing severe injury."

Emergency medical workers from EASI, the local ambulance service, were on the scene performing CPR, Jones said.

Capt. Yohance Brunson, also with the sheriff's office, was called in to further investigate the incident.

Bart Hargis, a mechanic at the facility, said Watt was "underneath the conveyor belt working on a converter and was attaching a rod when the kicker engaged crushing Mr. Watt," Brunson said in an Arkansas Democrat & Gazette report.

Hargis said an Evergreen EMT removed Watt from the area and called 911.

Ray Purifoy, an electrician, said Watt was on the ground pulling a shuttle cylinder.

"Mr. Purifoy's job was to manually pull the hydraulic cylinder at Mr. Watt's request, Brunson wrote in his report. "Suddenly the kicker engaged and went up and down [on] Mr. Watt's upper and lower body. Mr. Watt's body then dropped to the ground where he began gasping for air."

Angela Ferguson, a mechanic at the plant, gave a similar description of the accident.

After speaking with all the witnesses and Hughes, Brunson determined the incident was "was an accident and nothing intentional."

Evergreen officials expressed their condolences in a statement issued Monday evening.

"We are deeply saddened to confirm that a beloved Pine Bluff Mill employee was fatally injured as a result of an accident at the mill on March 18," said Beth Kelly, director of communications for Pactiv Evergreen, the company that operates Evergreen Packaging. "The Company is committed to supporting the employee's family during this extremely difficult time. Out of respect for their privacy, we will not be sharing any further details. We are fully cooperating with OSHA and local authorities with the investigation into the cause of the accident."

Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been contacted and is investigating the incident.

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