Widow, lawyer question response to fatal incident

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 06:37 AM

The widow of a man who died in an accident at a South Carolina paper plant voiced her concern about the situation at a press conference Tuesday.

Jessica Storey, the wife of Samir Storey, who died in an accident at Resolute Forest Products on Jan. 22 and her attorney, spoke at a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday at 100 W. Trade Street in Charlotte.

During the press conference, they cited what they described as negligence at the plant and and complained about response to the accident in which Samir Storey died, Chris Chestnut of Chestnut Law Firm said Tuesday.

"Even after Mr. Storey was exposed to the toxic chemicals, they didn't remove him immediately, they didn't immediately seek 911 help," Chestnut said.

They anticipate future legal action but as of Tuesday afternoon, nothing had been filed, he said.

The accident happened at 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 22 at the plant, which is in Catawba, S.C. According to Cotton Howell, director of Emergency Management for York County, S.C., there is speculation about what happened but nothing has been confirmed.

At the time of the accident, Storey and three others were performing routine maintenance on a scrubber, which is a tank that works like a filter, and something went wrong. There is speculation that a chemical may have entered the scrubber but that is still being investigated. There were three people inside of the vessel during the accident and two of the three were able to get out but Storey died during the incident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and York County Coroner's Office are investigating the accident while the York County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management will assist with the investigation, Howell said.

According to Howell, there have been accidents at Resolute Forest Products in the past but not any recently except for the one on Jan. 22. The company overall has had an excellent safety record, he said.

According to Debbie Johnston, a spokesperson for Resolute Forest Products, Storey and the other people working on the scrubber on Jan. 22, were not employees of the plant but employed by a subcontractor of a contractor working at the facility.

The area where the accident happened had been shut down while the scrubber was being cleaned and remained shut down after the accident. Everyone working on the scrubber had the proper safety equipment. Though Storey died, one worker was treated at the site and released while another was taken to the hospital after the accident, Johnston said.

According to an obituary notice for Samir Storey, funeral services were held Monday at Good Shepherd Funeral Home in Indian Trail.

He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and was active in Boy Scouts of America where he earned many awards of achievement. At 11 years old, he moved to Long Beach, Ca. to be closer to his father, who was an officer in the U.S. Navy.  He moved back to Brooklyn at age 15. Years later and after meeting his wife, he lived in Franklin Park, N.J., and later moved to Indian Trail in 2005. He and his wife owned a barbershop and hair salon called NY2NC Cutz, according to Samir Storey's obituary.

Attempts to contact Jessica Storey were unsuccessful as of press time.