Murphy was identified as a military veteran and father. “He was a loving father, devoted husband, caring son, and the best brother and uncle,” a loved one said on a GoFundMe page that quickly eclipsed its goal of $10,000 for the family. “He was an avid horse trainer and rider, an excellent soldier, and never met a stranger.”
Photos on the page showed a man laughing at his wedding, on horses with his kids, posing in a camouflage uniform.
The victims’ remains were transported to the GBI for autopsy, authorities said. On Friday, three employees remained in critical condition and one was in fair condition, according to a spokeswoman for Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Seven others were treated at the hospital and released.
Foundation Food Group, the plant’s owner, formed on Jan. 1 after a merger between Prime Pak Foods and Victory Processing, according to state business records. Efforts to reach the company Friday weren’t successful.
The plant has had multiple brushes with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The meat processor settled for more than $40,000 in 2017 for two separate incidents, both involving employees losing fingers, according to OSHA records. In 2019, the facility settled for $3,750 for violations involving worker face and eye protection.
The poultry industry, whose largest production state is Georgia, has suffered new hazards amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 400 poultry workers in Georgia tested positive for the disease last year. Employees often work in close proximity on production lines.
Labor rights advocates mourned the Gainesville deaths and said they should’ve been prevented. The facility isn’t unionized.
“Between the COVID-19 pandemic and incidents such as (this) tragedy, Georgia’s workers have been the subject of abuse for far too long,” read a statement from the Georgia AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor union federation.
Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.