Killed, Three Wounded in Chinatown Factory Accident
From Sing Tao Chinese Daily
June 11, 2002
In the wee hours of June 10th, a fatal accident occurred at a Chinese
owned spring roll factory on Broome Street. According to 5th precinct
officers, the ultracentrifuge of a cabbage-drying device spun off
its shaft, killing one worker and injuring three others in varying
degrees. Officers are waiting for an investigative report from their
Occupational Safety and Health Unit before deciding upon whether
or not laws were broken. For the moment, the incident is being treated
as an accident; no one has been arrested.
Situated at 329 Broome Street, "Wanxing Cunjuanma", or
"Wanxing Spring Roll Ingredients", processes fresh vegetables
for independent distributors. One of its primary functions is the
washing, drying, and slicing of cabbage. At approximately 12:20
a.m. yesterday morning, the cabbage-drying machine malfunctioned,
killing one of four Hispanic laborers, severing the arm of a second,
injuring the right ear of a third, and maiming the leg of a fourth,
said a 5th precinct detective. All were sent to Bellevue Hospital.
According to police, the spinning three-foot wide ultracentrifuge
suddenly flew off its shaft, hitting one wall and rebounding to
the other at such a speed as to kill one worker and injure all others.
The worker who received a relatively light injury to the ear immediately
contacted police after the incident. The officers arrived only to
witness 39 year old Queens resident José Chagulia die of
his chest wound. They immediately contacted the factory owner, Peter
Mak, at his home in Queens, who rushed to the scene and asked police
where the injured were being treated.
After the factory closed at dawn yesterday, the daughter of one
of the workers arrived at the site to remind her father to bring
a certain item home, only to walk in upon the gruesome mess left
behind. Blood was everywhere. Thirteen-year-old Angel and her older
brother Lizeth Martinez, children of one of the injured workers,
told reporters that their father has worked at the factory for fourteen
hard years, six days a week, 12 hours a day, earning a measly $320.00
Because he is undocumented, he had a hard time finding better employment
elsewhere. They were angry at the factory owner, to whom they say
their father and his coworkers had recently complained about the
waning equipment. The proprietor had only consented to repairing
instead of replacing the machinery. The girl believes that the machine
that malfunctioned has been in use for well over fourteen years.
Family members of the other victims are planning to pursue legal
action together as soon as they locate the relatives of the deceased.
This reporter attempted to contact Mr. Mak, but as of this writing
has not yet received a reply. However, he managed to locate Maks
sister-in-law, proprietor of a culinary distribution firm on East
She learned of the incident by telephone from her brother-in-law
around noon yesterday. His factory has not yet re-opened. Upon calling
the factory today, she learned from an employee that Mr. Mak has
gone off to seek legal representation in the matter.
Owners of neighboring establishments on Broome Street report that
Peter Mak speaks Cantonese, is around 40 years old, and established
his business more than two decades ago. Incidentally, he also owns
"Zhongmei Mianhang" or "Zhongmei Noodle Company,"
located at 75 Allen Street in Chinatown, which produces only spring
roll skins. As of yesterday, this business was operating as usual
from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. The factory where the accident occurred opens
very early in the morning and closes late in the evening in order
to coordinate distribution of its foodstuffs, said neighbors of
Wanxing Spring Roll Ingredients.
Employees at Zhongmei Noodle report that yesterday morning Mr.
Mak decided to close his other factory for a period of time due
to mechanical difficulties.
Police stated that Mr. Mak was unable to furnish the last names
or addresses of the four involved in the accident, since he only
knew their first names. Ultimately, the investigators received this
information from a victims coworkers, and then contacted their
According to the police, the factory has two cabbage drying machines.
A spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Unit, Brad
Mitchell, stated that it was his understanding that a loose component
within the cabbage drier was responsible for the mishap, the Associated
Fifth precinct officials are awaiting the results of an in-depth
Occupational Safety and Health Unit investigation. Afterwards, they
will know whether the factory violated labor safety laws. As of
now, they are processing the case as a workplace accident.
Translated from Chinese by Kelvin K. Wu
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