Summary: An untrained 17-year-old worker was pulled halfway into a wood chipper.
The incident: Less than one month before he was scheduled to begin his fourth year learning auto mechanics at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Isiah Bedocs, 17, of Coplay, PA, was offered a job to help clear trees from a private residence in North Whitehall Township, PA.
Bedocs accepted the work and even convinced two of his friends to help him.
As Bedocs was feeding trees into a commercial wood chipper at the job site one day, however, a branch got stuck. Because he hadn’t been trained on how to safely operate the hazardous equipment, Bedocs used his foot to push the branch into the chipper.
But his pant leg became entangled in the branch, and his leg was pulled into the chipper’s churning blades. Bedocs screamed for help as the rest of his body was being sucked into the ruthless machine.
The response: When a neighbor heard Bedocs’ cries for help, she called 9-1-1. Emergency responders arrived within minutes, but they were horrified at what they saw: Half of Bedocs’ body was in the wood chipper and the other half was in the feed chute.
“That was the most gruesome mechanical injury I’ve ever seen,” said one responder.
Bedocs, who was in and out of consciousness during the recovery effort, was air-lifted to a nearby hospital, but he was soon declared dead from multiple traumatic injuries.
The aftermath: “Isiah was such a loving, caring person,” said one friend. “He always made me smile and laugh whenever I was feeling down. His memory will live on forever in our hearts. I know that one day I will see him again.”
(From the Sept. 6, 2022, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)