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Sheriff: Winery worker, Napa resident killed on the job
Wine Industry

Sheriff: Winery worker, Napa resident killed on the job

From the Napa Valley Register: Best of September 2016 series

A Napa winery employee was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics after a stack of metal wine barrel racks fell on him, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.

Jose Alberto Avina, 43, of Napa was working last Wednesday with two others to unload the metal racks from a truck at Joel Gott Wines on Hoffman Lane south of Yountville, Capt. Keith Behlmer said.

The racks, which weigh 85 pounds each, were stacked high, so Avina and another man served as guides as they were backed out of the truck by a third person using a forklift, Behlmer said.

When the racks began to tip, the other workers jumped out of the way, but Avina tripped and fell, so the racks to fall on him, Behlmer said.

Avina was pronounced dead on the scene at Joel Gott Wines at 11 a.m., Behlmer said.

Although the Sheriff’s Office wasn’t sure exactly how many racks fell on Avina, the stack was about 12 feet high, Behlmer said. There were 17 racks in the truck, weighing 1,445 pounds.

Avina was an employee of Trinchero Family Estates, which has both Sutter Home Family Vineyards and Joel Gott in their family of brands, and worked at the Hoffman Lane facility for two harvests, according to company spokeswoman Elizabeth Hooker. Hooker said the Trinchero family is “saddened” by the loss of their coworker and will be making counselors immediately available to all employees, both on site and via phone.

“This is a terrible tragedy that is felt throughout our organization,” said CEO and Chairman Roger Trinchero. “As a family-run operation, every employee is part of our extended family and the loss is very painful for all of us.”

Cal/OSHA is investigating this workplace fatality, but had no immediate comment.

Hooker said that the Trinchero team is fully cooperating with OSHA and other authorities in their investigations.

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Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.

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