Student killed in grinder accident

By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A UA student was killed Sunday in a birdseed grinder accident at his workplace.

Joshua Morgan, an agricultural education junior, died after being trapped inside the machine at a mill in Arizona Feeds Country Store on 4743 North Highway Drive, east of Interstate 10 near West Ruthrauff Road.

Morgan, 20, was cleaning the birdseed grinder, a rotary machine which mixes and bags pet food, when it accidentally turned on. According to police reports, Morgan was sucked inside and killed instantly.

Katy Heiden, spokeswoman for the Northwest Fire/Rescue District, told the Arizona Daily Star when firefighters arrived, they determined Morgan did not survive the accident.

Eagle Milling Co., Inc. could not be reached for comment. The company is affiliated with Arizona Feeds Country Store, where Morgan worked.

The milling machine is more than twice the height of an average adult, Heiden said.

Members of the UA Department of Agriculture said they are shocked and saddened by Morgan's death.

Billye Foster, associate professor of agricultural education and Morgan's professor, said activity was subdued in the department today, as students tried to make sense of the traumatic death.

"I know it's going to be a challenge for all the students here to deal with the situation," Foster said. "He will be greatly missed within our department and college."

Kathleen Gamble, an agricultural education junior and preceptor in Morgan's agriculture education class, said faculty and students have shed lots of tears over the death of the boy with "beautiful blue eyes and a beautiful soul."

Gamble said she was so devastated when she learned the news, she had to return home to spend time with her children.

"As a parent, you shouldn't have to bury your kid - I don't even want to imagine what it's like for his parents," Gamble said. "They took him away too young ... 20 is way too young."

Morgan, who aspired to be an agricultural education teacher, was active in Future Farmers of America, and worked with high school children as a state officer of FFA, Foster said.

"Josh was a great kid ... he was the kind of kid that is involved and is caring of others and excited to be here," Foster said.

Heiden said the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration, a federal agency, is being called to investigate the workplace accident.

Nonetheless, faculty and friends are searching for a way to cope with the death.

"People ask me if I'm ok - how can you be ok?" Foster asked. "You resort to going through the motions."

Gamble said Morgan was a hard worker who would have made a good teacher.

"He was going places," Gamble said. "It's a terrible loss."