Reports released about a bizarre death on the job at an Albuquerque recycling plant shows the tragedy could have been prevented.
The company is contracted by the city.
Operator: “Okay, tell me exactly what happened?”
Worker: “One of my coworker’s got his arm stuck in the conveyor belt.”
These are the 911 calls from April 18, 2018 from Friedman’s Recycling in the North Valley. The recordings were sent to KRQE News 13 from a family friend of Tate Hofstetter.
Operator: “Is his arm still trapped in the conveyor belt?”
Worker: “Yes. I’m trying to help him get out.”
According to OSHA reports, Hofstetter worked as a mechanic at Friedman’s Recycling Plant, which is subcontracted by the city of Albuquerque. Documents said he was trying to adjust a conveyor belt when his arm got stuck, ripping his clothes, and then the pulley caught his face mask, which began choking him.
Worker: “Yes. I think he’s unconscious, I think his shirt is choking him.”
Operator: “His what?”
Worker: “His shirt is choking him.”
Paramedics eventually arrived and took Tate Hofstetter to UNM’s intensive care.
“Spent the next four days in there with him, until we took him off, took him off life support,” said Hofstetter’s dad, Nathan, over the phone.
He said his son moved to Albuquerque from California and started working at Friedman’s recycling to pay for training to become an MMA fighter.
“Tate was a wonderful young man, very very hard working,” said his dad.
Nathan Hofstetter believes his son’s life was cut short because he wasn’t properly trained to work at the recycling plant.
KRQE News 13 asked if he thought the accident could’ve been prevented, Nathan Hofstetter responded: “Absolutely, yes.”
According to a report from the State Environment Department, there were no safeguards to keep workers from getting caught in the conveyor belt.
“We miss him very, very much,” said Nathan Hofstetter. “I just don’t want anyone else to suffer like we’re suffering.”
KRQE News 13 asked if any changes have been made at the recycling plant since the accident, and the city, which contracts with Friedman’s, said that question is for Friedman’s to answer, but so far Friedman’s hasn’t returned our calls.
So far no one has sued Friedman’s or the city for this deadly mishap, but Nathan Hofstetter said he is considering legal action.