Shocking and horrific, not to mention how frightening and painful this must have been for the employee! Although the proper maintenance was applied and emergency safety mechanisms were in place and working properly, something went terribly wrong. It’s very possible that mandatory habitual procedures and persistent training may have possibly prevented this gruesome tragedy. AJC.com, Lauren Foreman, reports the incident.
Representatives from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office arrived at the Westin Peachtree Plaza to take a body police found dead in a freezer at the hotel Tuesday, March 22, 2016. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
The family of a kitchen worker found dead in a walk-in freezer in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel is seeking an unspecified amount in damages from the Atlanta hotel.
Carolyn Robinson, 61, who worked for the Westin company for more than 35 year, somehow got locked in a walk-in freezer just after 8 p.m. March 22.
The woman’s family, through The Witherspoon Law Group it hired, said even though the Westin maintains the freezer’s exit device “worked perfectly,” injuries to Robinson’s hands are consistent with those of a person suffering and struggling to escape.
The fact that a veteran employee could get trapped in a freezer with no one noticing speaks volumes about the Westin management team, Witherspoon chief executive officer Nuru Witherspoon said in a news release Monday.
“The same management that sent her into the freezer did not attempt to search for her until 13 hours later,” Witherspoon said.
Hotel spokeswoman Sally McDonald said the Westin can’t comment on the legal matter but she called Robinson a valued employee and a kind person.
“This is a tragedy,” McDonald said.
She also previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that between last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Atlanta Medical Examiner, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and an independent manufacturer representative conducted more than 30 functional tests over five separate testing occasions on the exit device on the inside of the freezer door in question.
In every test, the exit device and door were fully operational and had no defects, McDonald said.
“Inside the freezer, the push button handle allowed access out of the freezer with ease,” said Atlanta Equipment Services, which is the Manufacturer’s Authorized Service Company.