An accident involving a Dodge City worker who was injured at National Beef is under investigation. The victim's family is in search for answers; employer states it was simply an accident.
An onsite accident at National Beef that left a man in critical condition is currently under investigation by the Dodge City Police Department.
The victim’s family are in search of concrete answers about why Benjamin Cruz is in a surgical intensive care unit at a Wichita hospital.
The Dodge City resident who works for National Beef in the production department was injured while at work on Monday, April 21. According to Vice President of Marketing for the meat packing plant, Keith Welty, Cruz fell off a catwalk that stretches over cattle pens that are currently under construction; the catwalk is about 10 feet above the pens.
Welty said Cruz was not authorized to be in the area – due to it being a construction site. It is a restricted area for all National Beef employees. When asked whether caution tape had been placed around the area, Welty said he was not allowed to comment further.
National Beef employees allege that the construction site was not taped off and there was no caution tape until after the accident.
Dodge City Chief of Police Craig Mellecker said the details are under investigation.
"We are working with the business to see if we can determine what happened," Mellcker said. "Right now it is listed as an industrial accident, until proven otherwise– if there's anything to prove."
An accident investigation report filled out by National Beef Safety Director Mark Jellison, alleges that Cruz was found injured in the new cattle pens under construction on the East side of the cattle receiving. The report states there were no witnesses or video available at the scene.
According the the report, Cruz clocked into work at 12:40 a.m. and at about 1:10 a.m., he was instructed by a leadman to open the gates to the cattle pens to get ready for cattle delivery. At about 2:15 a.m., a coworker found Cruz, and when the worker realized Cruz was injured, a nurse on call was notified followed by the ambulance arriving at the site at 2:27 a.m..
Injuries from the accident have left Cruz in critical condition, according to the medical staff at Via Christi Hospital in Wichita, where Cruz was taken by air ambulance the same day of the accident.
Upon being admitted, it was determined that Cruz suffered multiple skull, rib and pelvis fractures, in addition to multiple facial fractures. Medical staff reported that Cruz is currently 90 percent dependent on life support.
Cruz's relatives who have traveled from New Mexico and Mexico City, say they are anxious to learn details about the accident as they are unable to speak with Cruz.