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Worker dies in American Mirror accident

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Man crushed by equipment, dies at scene

By Shannon Watkins

UPDATED 7/27/14:

The death of a Carroll County man in an industrial accident is being investigated by the Galax Police Department and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Benjamin Lee Hancock, 37, a maintenance worker at the American Mirror plant on East Stuart Drive in Galax, died July 23 when he became trapped in a piece of the factory’s equipment and suffocated, according to Galax Fire Chief David Hankley.

Fire and rescue personnel extricated Hancock from the machine, but could not revive him.

The machinery apparently crushed him, and he couldn’t breathe, Hankley said.

It was unclear what caused the accident or what kind of machinery was involved. Galax police said in a news release that the body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office to determine cause of death.

American Mirror is a supply company of Webb Furniture, which is jointly owned by Vaughan-Bassett and Vaughan Furniture. Vaughan-Bassett released a statement to the media on July 24.

“The management of American Mirror Company offers our condolences to the family, friends and fellow employees of Ben Hancock,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this most difficult time. We have launched an investigation to determine the exact cause of this accident and to help prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.”

Galax Police Chief Rick Clark noted that his department’s involvement in the investigation is standard procedure in order to be in compliance with state code.

A company spokesman said that insurance investigators and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) were on the scene, as well.

It may be some time before OSHA determines the cause of the accident. The company spokesman said OSHA’s onsite portion of the investigation should be complete this week, but the entire process could take months — which he has been told is typical in these situations.

American Mirror Company was closed the day after Hancock’s death. The company said it is offering grief counseling to employees through a local healthcare provider.