Seneca Foods employee dies in incident at Montgomery *Updated 10/6/23

By: 
Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo
Seneca Foods South Annex building in Montgomery, MN.

According to a press release from the Montgomery Police Department, a worker at Seneca Foods plant in Montgomery died early Thursday morning.

The release said that a call came in at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 for “a report of an employee that had been trapped by falling items located in a warehouse.” The release said the employee died from the injuries sustained in the incident.

Montgomery Police, Le Sueur County Sheriff, Montgomery Area EMS, and Montgomery Fire Department were all dispatched to the scene.

There was only one Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) record available in OSHA’s database for the Montgomery location. The record was of a safety complaint that was investigated on an unannounced visit in July 2020, and the case was closed, citing no violations in the inspection information available. According to OSHA information, no prior serious injuries or deaths have occurred at the Montgomery facility.

The name of the deceased has not been released by the police department currently, pending notifying next of kin. This incident remains under investigation and no further information was currently available.

***UPDATE 10/06/2023***

According to the Montgomery Police Department, the employee who died in the incident early Thursday morning was 58-year-old Jose Luis Alvarado.

A group of employees from Seneca Foods gathered in the early evening hours on Thursday, Oct. 6 near the front of Seneca property to protest in response to the incident and death of their co-worker. Montgomery City Administrator Brian Heck said he spoke with Montgomery Police Chief Nathan Hintz and Sergeant Pete Bulger about the event. Heck said, "Our understanding is some of the employees were upset and dissatisfied with the company in the wake of the accident. Officers were on scene to ensure the safety of those present, both the demonstrators and Seneca staff. The demonstration was peaceful."

State officials were on scene after the incident. James Honerman, communications director for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, said, "Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) Compliance is investigating the incident at Seneca Foods. Because of that, no further public information is available until the file is closed. There is no set timeframe for an investigation. MNOSHA investigates to determine the cause of such accidents and whether existing OSHA standards were violated to help avoid a recurrence of similar accidents."

Look for more information in Oct. 12 print edition of the Montgomery Messenger.

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