August 14, 2014 11:18:37 AM
HAMILTON -- Rescue teams this morning recovered the body of a Tronox contract employee believed to have drowned while operating a dredger in a pond behind the plant.
The body was found at approximately 8:57 a.m., according to Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley. Authorities declined to release the victim's name pending family notification.
Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell said the incident happened in a pond located at the back of the plant, which is located on Tronox Road. The victim was reported missing after he did not come in off the dredger he was operating.
"The deceased was onboard a tethered 18-foot pontoon dredge that is believed to have listed and capsized," according to a statement Tronox emailed The Dispatch this morning. "He was wearing a flotation vest when the accident occurred."
The man was operating the dredger alone, according to Cantrell. A dredger scoops and drags mud and rubbish from a pond.
Search and rescue divers with Columbus Fire and Rescue received a phone call for help just after 7:30 a.m., according to the department's public relations officer Anthony Colom.
Tronox officials confirmed that the deceased man is a longtime contract employee who works for Jimco. Tronox has approximately 600 workers, including contract employees, according to plant officials.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
"Tronox is committed to the safety of our workers and the local community. The relevant safety, health and environmental authorities have been alerted and are on site. We take this situation seriously and are cooperating with officials from these agencies to fully investigate the incident and take action, if necessary, to prevent future such events.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased."
The man's body is being taken to Jackson for an autopsy.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
1. Local man charged in Holly Hills death COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Drug sting targets Maben, Starkville residents STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Council picks 2 CMSD board members COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY