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Tortilla Factory Death Update

Police have reviewed surveillance video of the gruesome death of Guatemalan immigrant Juan Baten, who was killed early yesterday morning after falling into a mixing machine at the Tortilleria Chinantla factory in East Williamsburg. The video shows Baten frequently reaching into the deep machine to push the dough down, but around 2:30 a.m. his arm got caught on one of the blades and was pulled in. The mechanical arms broke his neck almost instantly. Rosario Ramirez, his common-law wife, told the Daily News, “I’m still in shock…He did everything so we could have a better life.”

Baten reportedly worked six days a week, 5 p.m.-to-2 a.m. for $7.25 an hour to support Ramirez, their 7-month-old daughter and his four brothers back in Guatemala. He and Ramirez moved to New York shortly after his father died, and one friend told the Post, “He told me dreamed of his late father. He said, ‘I had a dream with my father, and something may possibly happen to me in the next few days.”’ A medical examiner has ruled the death an accident, and unfortunately Baten’s co-workers say there was no reason for him to have stuck his arm so far into the mixer. They suspect he was listening to music at the time and dropped his headphones into the mixer, falling after he reached in to retrieve them.

According to friends, Baten suffered from fainting spells. Tortilleria Chinantla has no history of workplace violations according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but the factory is currently closed.

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