Broken doors, toxic gas claims lives in freezers around US

Crime Scene Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

ATLANTA (AP) — A worker enters a freezer and the door slams shut, with no one around to hear the cries for help. Other times, toxic gas from dry ice kills without warning. A handful of workers have been killed inside freezers since 2000, according to reports from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE — Chef Jay Luther enters a cooler at the cafe he co-owns, and the door closes behind him, OSHA reports. The release mechanism is missing, and Luther is found dead about 13 hours later.

RELATED: Germantown Cafe co-owner found dead in cooler

His family filed the negligence suit that alleged Metro police, as well as the company that installed a security system in the restaurant, and the business that delivered dry ice to the location acted carelessly leading up to Luther’s death. His death is attributed to dry ice, which led to him being asphyxiated.

ATLANTA — Carolyn Robinson Mangham, a hotel kitchen worker at the Westin Peachtree Plaza downtown, walks into a freezer on her evening shift and is found dead about 13 hours later. Her family maintains that she was trapped inside and froze to death. The hotel has said the door worked properly when tested after her death.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA — A worker dies of exposure to carbon monoxide while using a gas-powered pressure washer inside a freezer at American Food Service in 2010, OSHA reports.

SAN DIEGO — Cafe owner Henry Rabinowitz is found dead by his son, inside his store’s freezer in 2007. Dry ice had been temporarily used to keep food cold. Toxic levels of carbon dioxide, possibly caused by the dry ice, were found inside the freezer, OSHA reported. A new door on the freezer created a “vacuum seal,” making it nearly impossible to open for 90 seconds after it had been closed, the agency reported.

MEEKER, COLORADO — A lodge worker enters a walk-in freezer, closes the door and the handle breaks off in 2002. “This made it impossible for her to turn the mechanism to the ‘open’ position,” and the woman froze to death, OSHA wrote.


*The Associated Press contributed to this report.