LASALLE, Colo. — A fundraiser has been set up to help the family of a 44-year-old employee at Shelton Dairy who drowned in a manure pit at Shelton Dairy.
Sources close to the family say Juan Panzo Temoxtle was operating the manure vacuum truck on March 30 when it appeared to lurch forward and fell into the manure pit, according to Project Protect Food Systems Workers (PPFS). The cab of the truck was submerged in the liquid manure with Temoxtle trapped inside. Workers on site were unable to pull the heavy vacuum truck out of the pit.
Temoxtle had been submerged for 30 minutes before a helicopter arrived to rescue him. Temoxtle died March 31 at North Colorado Medical Center from hypoxic injuries due to lack of oxygen.
PPFS says Temoxtle had been employed at Shelton Dairy for about six weeks and the day of the accident was his first day operating the dairy's manure vacuum truck. A co-worker was helping train Temoxtle just outside of the cab and was able to make it out of the manure put shortly after the truck submerged, PPFS says. The co-worker was not seriously hurt.
Temoxtle was working to provide for his wife and three children, who were all living in Mexico, PPFS said.
“Juan came to the United States to have a better future for his kids, but, unfortunately, God had another plan for him. Juan wanted his kids to have a career and have a better future. He worked so hard for us. We depended on Juan, and now we have no one to depend on — no one to support us,” said Serafina Caliuhua Gonzalez, Temoxtle's wife.
Shelton Dairy provided the following statement:
We cannot adequately express the deep sadness we feel over the accident that involved one of our employees. Our sympathy is with their family as we all mourn this loss.
Our team is working with the Weld County Sheriff Office and OSHA in full cooperation witht heir efforts as the investigation of this truly unfortunate incident continues.
We work day-in and day-out alongside our employees and we can share that this has been traumatic for all of us; the whole team feels it.
We are heart-broken for the family and extend our deepest support and care at this time.
Front Line Farming, a BIPOC/womxn-led food and farmers advocacy group has set up a GoFundMe with donations going to help Temoxtle's family.
A bill to strengthen agricultural workers' rights, SB 21-087, is currently making its way through the Colorado Senate.