According to Johnson City Police Department records, James Reed was using a Genie boom lift to spray sawdust off the inside walls of a silo at QEP Co., Inc., 2225 Eddie Williams Road, when the sawdust reportedly collapsed on him.
Around 12:45 p.m., coworker Ricky Welsh, who was using a Bobcat to clean up around the silo, said he saw sawdust come out of the silo’s door and noticed the Genie boom lift was also covered in sawdust, according to the police report.
Welch told police he couldn’t see Reed and told another coworker, Darrell Roop, that he thought the silo had collapsed.
After being told the silo possibly collapsed, Roop turned the water off and went under the silo to check another entrance, but it was “plugged” with sawdust.
First reponders were called around 2:49 p.m. and later found out the sawdust did collapse on Reed and bury him.
Reed’s body was found around 4:49 p.m., and the medical examiner immediately declared him dead.
Spokesman Chris Cannon confirmed that the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened a fatality investigation into the workplace incident.
“During a fatality investigation, a TOSHA inspector typically surveys the site, reviews company procedures and protocols and attempts to interview witnesses and management,” Cannon said.
Cannon said fatality investigations can take between 10 and 14 weeks to complete.