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Manure pond deaths raise concerns

 It was still dark the morning Ruperto Vazquez-Carrera began his shift at Sunrise Organic Dairy.

It was mid-February 2016. A winter heat wave had melted snow and ice overnight, flooding part of the rural Jerome County farm. A foot Ruperto Vazquez-Carreraof standing water made it hard to tell where the feeding area ended and the deep pond that held the farm’s manure began.

Vazquez-Carrera got into a feed truck to deliver the cows their morning meal. About 5:30 a.m., he called his brother, who also worked at the farm, to warn him about the conditions.

By sunrise, Vazquez-Carrera, a 37-year-old husband and father of six, was dead.

Vazquez-Carrera had mistakenly driven the truck into the manure pond. He managed to get free and he tried to swim back to solid ground. But he was disoriented and swam in the wrong direction, according to the county sheriff. Divers found his body 70 yards from the truck.

It was a kind of death no one wants to happen. Yet it happened again, in Idaho, just seven months later.

A dairy worker in Shelley, south of Idaho Falls, suffocated after driving into a manure pond more than 5 feet deep and being pinned for 30 minutes under the tractor he was driving

He managed to get free and he tried to swim back to solid ground. But he was disoriented and swam in the wrong direction, according to the county sheriff. Divers found his body 70 yards from the truck.

It was a kind of death no one wants to happen. Yet it happened again, in Idaho, just seven months later.

A dairy worker in Shelley, south of Idaho Falls, suffocated after driving into a manure pond more than 5 feet deep and being pinned for 30 minutes under the tractor he was driving.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent inspectors to investigate each incident. The agency cited each dairy for failing to provide a safe workplace and fined each $5,000. Full story.




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.