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Monsanto loses two young employees

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Foodfacts.com recently came across this tragic and devastating news story involving two young teenage girls, also employees of Monsanto, that were fatally electrocuted while detasseling GM corn fields.

WHITESIDE COUNTY, Ill.—
Two detasselers are confirmed dead and eight more injured in an electrocution accident in a Whiteside County field.

Emergency crews were called to a corn field south of Tampico just before 9 a.m. Monday, July 25, 2011.

There they found four detasselers electrocuted and another six shocked.

Police say four detasselers who suffered the most-serious injuries were taken to an area hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Two were later confirmed dead, and one was flown to a Rockford hospital and listed in critical condition.

The other detasselers were first taken to a staging area at the Rock Falls Fire Department for evaluation. From there, they were either transported to an area hospital or released to a parent or guardian.

Chevy Conkling was among the 72 detasselers in the field Monday when four of their owner were electrocuted, killing 14-year-old Hannah Kendall and 14-year-old Jade Garza.

“We were just like detasseling and we heard screaming and all went down hill,” said Chevy Conkling.

Chevy, a first year detasseler himself, says he watched as Hannah, Jade and two other detasselers walked past an above ground irrigator.

“One of the girls was laying on ground and couldn’t feel her legs and she was screaming for help, then two were passed out on it,” said Conkling.

In the very early stages of the investigation, police along with Monsanto and OSHA representatives still don’t know how the teens came in contacted with the irrigator.

“Several other crew members in the area also reported feeling an electrical shock,” said Lt. Andy Henson of the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department.

“I just looked at it, touched the thing to see what was happening and it shocked me,” said Conkling.

Ranging in age from as young as 13, the detasselers are subcontracted through Monsanto.

Representatives say their detasselers are told to walk around irrigators.

“We do fairly extensive training with our contractors including not only irrigation system but heat,” said Mark Cabenaile of Monsanto.

The Sterling community now remembering Hannah and Jade, inseparable best friends who died together all too young.

“This is a tragic situation and certainly our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends and those that knew them,” said Cabenaile.

Monsanto has suspended all operations, until the investigation is complete. Monsanto employs around 1,000 people.

(Quad City Times)

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