by Sula Kim
POQUOSON — A Poquoson tree trimming company has been fined $185,000 in the November 2009 death of a 14-year-old worker.
Frank Gornick was working for his uncle’s company Old Dominion Tree and Lawn Care Specialists and was on a three-person team doing debris removal following the Nor’easter.
Police said he was using a shovel to drop debris into the wood chipper’s hopper when it got caught in the machine’s blades, dragging him in and killing him instantly.
The Va. Department of Labor and Industry issued its findings Thursday, saying the machine shouldn’t have been used.
“The wooden paddle was missing, the feet control was missing, the lower door hadn’t been installed. There were six things missing,” said Jennifer Wester, Cooperative Programs director.
She says the report concluded a metal shovel was used to put items in the chipper, even though the manufacturer forbids it.
According to Wester, workers weren’t wearing hard hats or eye protection.
The company has 15 days to contest the findings or take action as outlined by the state.