Investigator hands information over to OSHA

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department has concluded its investigation into a fatal accident that occurred at the Tractor Supply Company store in Alice, and has forwarded that information to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), officials said Tuesday.

Sgt. Odel Mendoza, the lead investigator on the case for the sheriff's department, said Tuesday he had forwarded all of the photographs, witness statements and other evidence collected from the accident and turned it over to OSHA, which is expected to complete the investigation.

The only evidence not yet forwarded to OSHA, Mendoza said, included an autopsy report and toxicology report pending from the Corpus Christi Medical Examiner's office.

On April 25, the day after the accident, Chris Gomez, the father of Miguel Gomez, the 19-year-old man killed in the accident, filed a temporary restraining order in the 79th District Court against Tractor Supply Company to allow attorneys representing Gomez to examine the accident site.

That order was granted by District Judge Richard Terrell, but expired following a hearing in district court Monday.

Gomez was pronounced dead April 24, less than an hour after he was pinned underneath a forklift at the store, located on Highway 44 just east of Alice.

Witnesses at the scene told investigators Gomez lost control of the vehicle and the forklift fell onto its side, pinning him.

Store employees were able to use another machine to free Gomez from beneath the vehicle, officials said, but Gomez was non-responsive.

He was transported by ambulance to CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice, and was pronounced dead a short time later.