By JOHN O'CONNELL
POCATELLO, Idaho -- A 23-year-old employee of a Kansas company died May 22 from injuries sustained while mixing fertilizer in a mobile production unit on the grounds of the J.R. Simplot Don Plant in eastern Idaho.
Derrick E. Martinez worked for Blick's Phosphate Conversions of Garden City, Kan., and was blending water, ammonia and polyphosphate in the mobile unit on the afternoon of May 18 when he sustained injuries, according to Blick's president, Kenny Kelb.
Kelb said his company has started an investigation but won't learn the most pertinent details until it's allowed to enter and take apart the mobile unit. Kelb said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has requested that the unit be left as it was at the time of accident until OSHA investigators have a chance to examine it.
Kelb said his company, which operates mobile fertilizer production units in 14 states, is the largest portable blender of fertilizer in the country. He said the company sends portable units to blend on production sites close to customers to reduce costs of shipping fertilizer mixtures heavy on water.
Kelb said Martinez started working for Blick's early last year. Blick's maintains a staff of 14-17 workers.
"He was a hard-working employee that loved his job and loved the people he worked with," Kelb said. "We're all kind of a family. It's going to be tough on everybody."
Simplot issued a brief statement confirming details of the accident and specifying that no Simplot employees were injured.