MOORHEAD, MINN. - September 25, 2006 - On Saturday, September 23, 2006, at approximately 11:00 p.m., LaRae Murch, who was working as a packaging foreman at the company's Moorhead factory, was involved in a serious incident in the packaging and warehousing area. Emergency personnel were contacted immediately. She was transported to MeritCare Hospital by ambulance and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Throughout the night family, friends, and coworkers gathered in support. Unfortunately, she did not recover.
American Crystal has completed a preliminary investigation, but many facts are unknown and unclear at this point as to the root causes and nature of this incident. The investigation is ongoing, and we are making every effort to uncover as many details as possible regarding this situation. However, since our early findings indicate there were no witnesses to the incident and apparently no breaches in safety protocol, it may prove impossible to ascertain answers to all possible questions.
Following the incident, American Crystal notified the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). OSHA officials were at the factory on Monday conducting an investigation.
To provide support to employees of the Moorhead factory, American Crystal has brought in employee assistance professionals to offer counseling sessions.
"Employees are the heart and soul of the American Crystal family," states Jim Horvath, president and CEO. "By all accounts, LaRae Murch was committed to every thing she undertook, including her personal and work life. American Crystal wholeheartedly regrets this incident and is overcome with sadness in losing her. She will be greatly missed, and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family."
Murch, 50, began her 31-year career with American Crystal on September 2, 1975, as a shipping clerk at the Hillsboro factory. In May 1976 she began working at corporate headquarters in the finance department. In May of 1978, she was hired as a shipping clerk at the Moorhead factory. Along with her duties as a shipping clerk she also worked as a utility clerk, in the storeroom, and most recently as a packaging foreman.
American Crystal Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative owned by nearly 2,900 shareholder entities in the Red River Valley (Northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota) involved in the growing and processing of sugarbeets. American Crystal employs about 1,700 full and part time employees and is the largest beet sugar producer in the United States. American Crystal operates sugar factories at East Grand Forks, Crookston, and Moorhead, Minn., Drayton and Hillsboro, N.D., and Sidney, Mont., under the name Sidney Sugars Incorporated. American Crystal's corporate headquarters and technical services facilities are located in Moorhead.
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