Man dies under semi-trailer in Sanger

A 19-year-old Pitman Farms employee perishes in tractor-trailer incident at farming plant

Crime scene tape in the foreground with a blurred police car in the background at a crime scene.
Darren Fraser
Published February 26, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – For the second time in less than a year, a Pitman Family Farms employee has died in an accident at the company’s Sanger facility.

On Feb. 20, just before midnight, Pitman employee Jose Abrego, 19, who lived in Sanger, died from injuries he sustained after entering a space between a tractor-trailer and its rear wheels.

Sanger Police said the company notified emergency services. First responders attempted to revive Abrego but he died at the scene. 

In a Feb. 21 story, ABC30 reported that Abrego died as a result of being trapped beneath the tractor-trailer, but that information has not been confirmed by the Fresno County Coroner.

In a statement, Sanger Police said foul play is not suspected. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA) is currently investigating the incident.

This is the second instance of a Pitman Farms employee death within the last year. On May 7, 2023, employee Jesus “Chuy” Salazar, 66, drowned after he fell into a waste pit at the facility. According to the Cal OSHA report, Salazar was performing maintenance on pipes near the waste pit, which was filled with chicken feathers and parts, waste, water and fat.

A coworker noticed Salazar was missing and notified a supervisor, who contacted the police. When police checked the area, they discovered Salazar had fallen into the pit, which was 14 feet wide, 18 feet long and 25 feet deep.

The Cal OSHA investigation uncovered four investigations in the area where Salazar drowned. According to the report, parts of guardrails were missing. The floor cover had missing sections and one piece of the cover was discovered in the pit.

Pitman was assessed fines in excess of $56,000, which the company disputed.

17,000 CHICKENS DESTROYED

Abrego’s death is the latest in a string of unfortunate events for Pitman.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, a fire broke out at a chicken coup located at 9760 S. Hill Avenue in Orange Cove. The coup is owned by Pitman Farms.

According to the Orange Cove Fire District, the fire destroyed 17,000 chickens that were housed in the coup. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Darren Fraser
Reporter