A man missing since early May fell into a shredding machine in an Upstate recycling center and died, tests show.
Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said small pieces of a human body were found around the machine that Duncan Alexander Burrell Gordon, 20, was working on at Industrial Recovery and Recycling in Greer.
The coroner’s office was called on June 10, almost a month after Gordon went missing.
Tissue had been found on a conveyor belt by the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office and tested before the coroner was called. It matched the DNA of Gordon’s parents.
The machine in question had been checked three times before the coroner’s investigators arrived at the plant June 14, Clevenger said.
It had been checked by Gordon’s father, Mike Gordon, who is a supervisor at the plant, a uniformed patrol supervisor with the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s investigators and a cadaver K-9 and then again when material was found under the conveyor belt.
The coroner’s office also recovered material from under a support under the conveyor belt that moves the plastic material to another machine for further processing.
Gordon was working on top of the machine at the time he went missing. The room includes several machines and it is noisy.
A forensic anthropologist and a forensic pathologist hired by the coroner’s office examined the material and subsequently looked at the shredding machine. The machine has been shut down and turned back on multiple times and 60,000 pounds of plastic material has been processed since Gordon went missing.
“I can confirm the material is consistent with human fat, microscopically minute particles of skin and small pieces of bone,” Clevenger said in a news release.
He said about 2 ounces of material was recovered, the coroner said.
OSHA is investigating whether there were any safety violations. An OSHA spokesperson said Wednesday such a review normally takes eight weeks.
Clevenger said he can’t issue a death certificate because there is no body, but state law provides another remedy for families to establish death.