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California citrus worker killed by 600-pound propeller

VISALIA, Calif. — A citrus worker in California’s Central Valley has died after a 600-pound blade from a wind machine broke loose and hit him.

The Fresno Bee says 53-year-old Richard Escobedo was fatally injured on Jan. 3 at an orchard near Visalia.

Wind machines circulate warmer air to prevent orchards from freezing.

Escobedo’s brother, George Escobedo, says he was told his brother was shutting down the machine when it began vibrating badly and the propeller fell off and struck him.

Escobedo worked at Wonderful Citrus, a division of The Wonderful Company, the nation’s largest citrus grower. The Bee says the company was cited for two accidents in 2016.

Wonderful says it’s investigating the accident and will take any steps necessary to prevent a recurrence.

State regulators also are investigating.