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Worker Dies in Fall at Farm

Times Staff Writer

A 72-year-old farmworker died Monday after falling from stacked pallets of cardboard boxes at Rio Farms in Camarillo, authorities said.

Julian Romero of Oxnard was attempting to remove an empty wooden pallet used to hold down a tarp protecting an 8-foot stack of loaded pallets, according to the company.

A co-worker using a forklift helped him get to the top of the pallets, and it appeared that Romero lost his footing, fell and struck his head on the pavement below, authorities said. He died at the scene about 6:45 a.m.

Cal/OSHA has launched an investigation into the incident that is expected to take two to three months, said agency spokesman Dean Fryer.

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As a driver for Rio Farms since 1996, Romero would transport flattened boxes to workers harvesting celery and lettuce and take loaded boxes to the company’s refrigerated storage facilities in Oxnard.

“He was a good worker with a great attitude,” said farm industry attorney Rob Roy, who represents Rio Farms and is president of the Ventura County Agricultural Assn. “He was well liked by the managers and his fellow employees.

“It’s a sad day for the company to lose somebody of that caliber.”

Survived by Andrea Romero, his wife of 53 years, Romero was described by one of his seven adult children as having been in excellent shape and devoted to his job.

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“He was a very hard-working person,” said Blanca Vargas, one of his four daughters. “He was always in a good mood. He loved dancing and singing with the family.”

Vargas said a rosary was scheduled for Wednesday evening at Garcia Mortuary and a Mass was set for Thursday at Our Lady of Guadalupe church, both in Oxnard.


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