A Gastonia man died Saturday after police say he was pulled into a wood chipper in Kings Mountain.
Mason Scott Cox, 19, was pronounced dead on the scene at a Hawthorne Road home, according to a Kings Mountain Police news release.
The machinery is commonly used to reduce wood into smaller chips.
Police determined that Cox’s death was accidental and no foul play was suspected.
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WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, reported that Cox was working in a residential yard for the Belmont-based Crawford Tree Service when the accident happened. The N.C. Department of Labor has opened an investigation to determine if any safety and health standards were violated, a spokeswoman said.
John Crawford, who owns the tree business, said Cox was a subcontractor, not a full-time employee. He said he employs Cox’s cousin, who asked if Cox could help with a job on Saturday to make a few extra bucks.
Though initially reluctant, Crawford said he agreed.
Cox’s mother, Debra Sisk, told WBTV that the teen had very limited experience in the tree removal industry, but had worked on cell towers before. She questions whether he was being supervised when the accident happened.
She said it was horrifying to learn how her son had died.
"I just started screaming,” Sisk said. “... It's bad enough that's he's gone," she said.
Family members said they currently have no plans to contact the company Cox was working for. They said they aren't angry over the incident, but they would like to know how the accident happened.
"I loved him very much and I'm going to miss him very much," said Cox's mother.