Investigation into Tony Lee Stafford’s Workplace Injury Still Unresolved

Published 3:53 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Tony Lee Stafford died July 14 due to complications from a workplace injury he sustained two weeks prior while working at Golden Gourmet.

The family says Golden Gourmet has still not reached out, leaving them to try and piece together what happened from text messages and from accounts given by his co-workers. Leslie Johnson, Mr. Stafford’s sister, described what she had heard.

“One of the young ladies and the young man called him to come and help them with something and so I guess he was walking around looking at what was going on in there. He’s a forklift driver he has the license for the forklift and everything but some kind way he was trying to tell me about how another young man did something that he was trying to get him to wait and hold on while he you know take a picture of the hazard and see what was going on and at that time that’s when 9,000lbs of green beans and pallets whatever fell on him.”

From texts received from Mr. Stafford, the family says it appears the accident happened around 7:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., around 15 minutes after Mr. Stafford started work, though the exact time is uncertain.

Mrs. Mcfarley, Mr. Stafford’s mother, described the standard procedure for dealing with an injury.

“First thing you do is secure the area. Somebody else dialing 911 and the next one is making sure the victim is comfortable until the ambulance. You have three things you have to do when there’s an accident. You must do those things. But it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen.”

She continued to detail her frustrations with the response to her son’s injury. In response to a claim that her son had requested they did not call an ambulance, she responded.

“When an accident happens you have go ahead and call 911, if a person refused to get an ambulance then oh well but you protocol is you have to call 911, secure the area, and you know call 911, but they did not do that.”

Ms. Johnson echoed similar frustration.

“They loaded him up in a truck, dropped him off at the ER and left him there.”

Billie Mazer was listed on the accident report as the employee the accident was reported to, but it is unclear who made the decision not to call 911 or to drive him to the hospital. The family claims that co-workers have said that she was the one who drove Mr. Stafford.

When asked to give more details about the incident, Golden Gourmet stated that Mr. Stafford was an employee of The Staffing People. When given a chance to comment, the Staffing People responded that they could not give out private information about their employees, however Ms. Johnson said that The Staffing People had expressed sympathies and prayers to the family after Mr. Stafford’s death.

Ms. Johnson described the impact Mr. Stafford had on their lives.

“He wanted to get this project completed, then this project completed, he had a lot that he wanted to do. He had just gotten his own house, he had just got his own house, probably a month prior to this incident happening. He had purchased materials and things to redo his house. He wanted to redo the interior first, and then he was going to outside, the exterior of the home. All of that material and stuff is just sitting there, because the person who wanted to redo their house and make it beautiful is no longer here. He was killed by some green beans and a pallet.”

OSHA is conducting an ongoing investigation and is currently unable to provide details. The family have secured council but have not currently set a court date.

Family members also expressed frustration at how Mr. Stafford’s care was handled after the accident, claiming he was initially released after spending a day in the ER at Phebe Sumter, though he later was admitted to Pheobe Putney in Albany.

Ms. Johnson expressed her feelings towards Golden Gourmet.

“He may not have meant that much to them, even though he was a hard worker, and they knew it, but he did to us.”

“He’s gone. That’s the bottom line.” Mrs. Mcfarley added.