Man Dies After Falling Into Tank of Chocolate

A Camden man died after he fell into a vat of melted chocolate at a factory Wednesday morning.

Vincent Smith II, 29, was standing on a nine-foot-high platform loading chunks of raw chocolate into a melting tank at Cocoa Services in Camden, N.J. when he fell in around 10:30 a.m., according to Camden County D.A. spokesman Jason Laughlin.

After falling, Smith was struck in the head by an agitator -- a large paddle-like mixing device – and killed.

Coworkers acted quickly to try and save Smith. They turned off the machine but were unable to pull the injured man from the eight-foot vat. He was eventually removed from the machine by firefighters.

"I tried as hard as I could," said a distraught friend and co-worker. The man asked not to be identified, but was visibly shaken by the accident.

Smith was a temporary worker who was with the company for the past few weeks, said Laughlin. He had just moved back to the city more than a month ago to find work.

"He was a good, hard-working person and it was a tragic loss that happened," the unidentified friend said.

Cocoa Services rented the facility on the 700 block of N. 36th Street in Camden from Lyons & Sons, Inc. The company mixes and melts raw chocolate for use by food and candy manufacturers such as Hershey Foods. The plant was quickly shut down for the day following the accident.

Smith's father and aunt rushed to the facility only to find out that he had died. "They say he didn't make it," confessed Smith's teary-eyed aunt Teresa Smith.

The family stood at the facility's gate late Wednesday afternoon, waiting to talk to Cocoa Services management. They want to know what exactly transpired and if the accident could have been prevented with a safety harness.

"That's all it would have taken was just some sort of a safety harness…to prevent him from falling in," said the aunt.

OSHA is opening an investigation to see if there were any safety violations at the plant.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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