Worker dies in portside sulfur 'avalanche'

- An "avalanche" of sulfur killed an equipment operator at a Gibsonton facility late Friday morning.

According to the sheriff's office, the accident happened just after 10 a.m. at Port Redwing off Pembroke Road.  Joseph Lammlein was operating a front-end loader amidst a mountainous pile of powdered sulfur.

"The sulfur shifted (avalanche) causing the front end loader that Lammlein was operating to be encased by the sulfur, causing the sulfur to enter the cabin of the front end loader," a sheriff's office statement explained.

Other employees and three sheriff's office deputies tried to dig the 45-year-old out, but were unsuccessful.  The deputies subsequently had to be hospitalized for exposure to sulfur, which can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant.

Lammlein's body was recovered four hours later.

OSHA was notified and their investigators have arrived at the scene.

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