BATAVIA — The city Fire Department, with assistance from city police, is investigating the death of an employee of Western N.Y. Concrete Corp., 638 E. Main St. this afternoon.
Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said the victim’s name will not be released right now, pending notification of his family.
Heubusch said police were dispatched at 12:57 p.m. to Western N.Y. Concrete for a report of a male stuck in a stone bin.
“Upon arrival, the employees that were working were trying to extricate the gentleman from the stone bin,” he said. “City Fire made an extrication. Unfortunately the individual has passed.”
Asked what a stone bin is, Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger said the business uses stone dust, which is a fine dust, for concrete production.
“It’s a big hopper, it’s very wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. It’s an internal thing. It has a belt that takes the stone dust up into where they need it to create concrete,” he said.
Herberger said the employee fell into the hopper and was buried.
“The cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner,” the interim fire chief said.
The first priority for the Batavia Fire Department was to assess very quickly what type of equipment is going on and what type of operation is going on so firefighters don’t endanger themselves, Herberger said.
“Just taking control of equipment and making it work towards our advantage — we have to do some disassembling just to get him out,” he said. “From the time of the call to when he was out was a half-hour, I believe.”
Herberger said he has never experienced anything like this in his career.
“Genesee County is a very rural county ... I know other area fire departments have something similar with grain bins,” he said. “This was a little different because stone dust is much finer than grain, very heavy.”
Herberger said all on-duty firefighters responded.
“We called in a platoon of firefighters to cover the rest of the city,” he said. The ones called in were off-duty city firefighters, he said.
Heubusch said the officers working today and the detectives who will be taking statements to assist the city Fire Department in anything else in its investigation.