Police: Horseplay at Mar-Jac plant led to man’s death

Authorities in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said that horseplay at the Mar-Jac poultry processing plant in the city on December 15 led to a man’s death the following day.

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(sswartz | Bigstock)
(sswartz | Bigstock)

Authorities in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said that horseplay at the Mar-Jac poultry processing plant in the city on December 15 led to a man’s death the following day.

According to a press release from the Hattiesburg Police Department (HPD), the an investigation of the incident revealed that “known acquaintances were horse-playing with machinery in the facility,” when one man was injured.

The patient, who has been identified as 33-year-old Joel Velasco Toto, was transported to a nearby hospital. The incident occurred around 5:30 a.m. that day, and the HPD was notified of the incident that evening.

Toto underwent surgery, but he died on the following day.

In a statement released to the local media, Mar-Jac Poultry said the man was injured in the battery charging room at the poultry plant. 

“Our prayers are with his family,” the company said in the statement. “Every employee is important to us, and everyone is somebody’s child or parent, sibling or spouse. Especially at this time of year, after all the difficulties we have all had to deal with in 2020, we deeply regret this sadness and hope for healing for all concerned.”

In its statement, Mar-Jac said the company is cooperating closely with local law enforcement, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the investigation.

According to the HPD, the death investigation will be “sent to the district attorney’s office for presentation to a future grand jury.”

The Hattiesburg poultry plant has been a part of Mar-Jac Poultry’s operations since 2014, when the company acquired the former assets of poultry integrator Marshall Durbin Cos. located in Alabama and Mississippi in 2014. 

According to the WATTPoultry.com Top Companies Database, Mar-Jac Poultry, which also has operations in Georgia, processed 15.88 million pounds of ready-to-cook poultry on a weekly basis in 2019.

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