‘I lost my best friend’: Worker trapped in machine for 45 minutes dies 9 days later

HUDSON, N.C. — An industrial accident last Tuesday at the Sealed Air Corp. plant in Hudson left Jenny Rothernberger’s husband trapped in a machine for 45 minutes. Family members told Channel 9 he died Thursday night.

“I want answers and why there wasn’t a button to release Alan off of the rollers immediately when it happened,” Rothernberger said.

Alan Powell was airlifted to a hospital, where he remained in a coma for more than a week. Family members said he suffered brain damage because he did not have air going to his brain for 10 minutes after the incident.

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“I can’t understand how this happened,” Rothernbeger said. “I lost my best friend.”

The North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health division said an investigation is underway.

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“Based on the preliminary information that we have at this time, an employee was threading up a machine when their body was pulled into the machine causing crushing injuries to their torso,” OSHA said in a statement.

Family members want to know if the equipment malfunctioned, and they don’t want another worker getting hurt.

“Nobody who signs up for that type of career should ever go to work and not come home,” said Danielle Burfine, Powell’s niece.

The company, which manufactures foam and bubble wrap, did not have a comment about the accident.