16-year-old boy dies while working at Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Mississippi; details murky days later

A teenager died in a workplace accident at Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, Miss., Friday, July 14, 2023.
A teenager died in a workplace accident at Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, Miss., Friday, July 14, 2023.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. − A 16-year-old boy was killed last week while working at a Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Mississippi, authorities said, marking the third death at the plant since 2020.

The incident occurred around 8 p.m. Friday at the factory located in Hattiesburg, a city in the southern portion of the state near the coast. Police were called to the scene and began an investigation into the boy's death, a spokesperson for Hattiesburg Police Department said in a news release.

Citing the ongoing investigation, officials with Mar-Jac Poultry declined to comment on the details of what happened, a spokesperson at the company's headquarters in Gainesville, Georgia, said Tuesday.

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It is illegal for minors to work in any hazardous occupation, including meat processing, according to the Federal Code of Regulations and the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is unclear whether the work the teen was doing was hazardous.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division have launched investigations at the facility, a U.S. Department of Labor spokesperson told USA TODAY.

Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem said the teen was a Hattiesburg resident, but declined to release his name, citing that he was a minor. USA TODAY left a phone message Wednesday morning at the coroner's office seeking updated information.

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Third death in three years at Mar-Jac plant

The teen's death is the third at Mar-Jac in the past three years. In 2020, 33-year-old Joel Velasco Toto died after he and another person were "horse-playing with machinery in the facility," according to Hattiesburg police.

In June 2021, 48-year-old Bobby Butler died from his injuries following an incident involving heavy equipment.

Contact reporter Lici Beveridge at lbeveridge@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @licibev or Facebook at facebook.com/licibeveridge.

This article originally appeared on Hattiesburg American: Teen worker death at Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi