Farm Owner Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter After Worker’s Death

Farm Owner Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter After Worker’s Death

A farm owner and his company have been charged with involuntary manslaughter following the death of a worker on their farm in Watsonville, Santa Cruz County, California. The Santa Clara County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Willoughby Farms and its owner, David Willoughby, for causing the death of Carlos Jimenez Cruz.

The incident occurred on October 15, 2020, just before sunrise, when the 32-year-old victim was strangled to death while servicing a 16,000-pound spinach harvester. The District Attorney’s Office stated that Jimenez Cruz’s clothing hood became caught in a spinning shaft on the machine, leading to his tragic death.

David Willoughby, the president of Willoughby Farms, Inc., was arraigned on Tuesday on felony charges, while the corporation is set to be arraigned on Wednesday. The allegations against them include failing to provide adequate training to employees and failing to cover dangerous parts of the machine, resulting in the death of Mr. Cruz.

If convicted, David Willoughby could face a maximum sentence of four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Additionally, Willoughby Farms may face significant fines for three Labor Code violations.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen emphasized the importance of employers ensuring the safety of their workers, stating, “It is a tragedy and a crime when a person doing their job is injured or killed because an employer fails to pay attention to safety.”

Willoughby Farms, a longstanding farm that grows spinach and other crops, has faced similar charges in the past. This marks the second time that a Santa Clara County Grand Jury has indicted an employer for a workplace death. In 2015, the owner and project manager of a construction company were convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a worker was killed in a trench collapse.



Author: CrimeDoor

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