COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – We’re continuing to gather new information on the tragic death of an employee at FreightCar America in Colbert County. The plant has sat idle since an employee was injured on the assembly line Tuesday night. She died a short time later at Helen Keller Hospital.
Very few cars sat outside the FreightCar America plant Wednesday. Operations were suspended after 21-year-old Angel Foster became entangled within a piece of equipment on the assembly line.
First responders say the 911 call went out Tuesday night at 9:15. When firefighters got to the plant, they say Foster was unresponsive and CPR was immediately started. Once revived, paramedics transported her to Helen Keller Hospital. The Colbert County Sheriff’s Office says Foster died after her arrival.
Investigators with the sheriff’s office have launched a death investigation, which means they are making sure no foul play was involved.
A FreightCar America spokesperson says he is sickened by this tragic event.
“I don’t even know how to process it yet myself,” stated David Benson, VP of Human Resources for FreightCar America. “Our focus is really on the family, and our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the employee. It’s a very tragic day for them.”
Earlier this year, FreightCar America took over the entire mile-long plant in the Barton Riverfront Industrial Park. They build a variety of railcars for use by freight companies. Nearly 900 people are employed at the manufacturing facility.
“We care greatly about our employees. It’s our employees that make this factory run, and make our company great,” said Benson. “We run very strict safety rules, protocols. We would never let that happen.”
FreightCar America has three reports of infractions currently listed by OSHA at the Colbert County facility. With one closed, the other two violations are being contested.
In a March 2018 complaint, “Employees were exposed to struck-by hazards from failure to ensure an end wall panel weighing approximately 400 pounds was securely attached to the floor sheet of the rail car during assembly.”
One month later in April, the second report states “Employees were exposed to slip and fall hazards when conducting welding work on top of the roller bed platform.”
Currently the plant remains shut down while OSHA investigates the latest incident. A company spokesman says it will remain idle until until the OSHA investigation is complete.
Grief counselors will be made available to employees of FreightCar America when they return to work.