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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Batesville man killed in Izard farming accident

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Staff Writer

An Independence County man was killed Jan. 17 in a farming accident at the Johnny Branscum chicken farm on Highway 177 near Dolph.

Gabriel Ayala, 24, was crushed between a forklift and a long bed trailer filled with caged chickens.

Ayala was rushed from the Branscum farm to the Community Medical Center in Calico Rock where he was pronounced dead at 2:06 a.m.

Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence said investigators are treating the death as an accident.

Lawrence said Ayala was standing on the forklift forks when the accident took place. He said a forklift driver attempted to lift Ayala up so he could fasten two cages together at the top of the trailer.

"The driver pushed the forward button instead of the lift button," Lawrence said.

Ayala was a contract laborer with Pilgrim's Pride, a poultry company based in Batesville.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his (Ayala's) family at this time," said Ray Atkinson, a spokesman with Pilgrim's Pride.

Atkinson said Ayala was a contract laborer, not an employee of Pilgrim's Pride.

Lawrence said Izard County deputy Leon Cheatham was the investigator at the scene. According to the Izard County Sheriff's Department, Cheatham said it was chaotic when he arrived at the Branscum farm.

He said many of the workers, including Ayala, were Mexican and spoke little English.

Funeral arrangements for Ayala were unknown at press time.

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