Officials investigate after electrician found dead at Penford

Brown worked as superintendent at plant

Published: March 7 2014 | 8:44 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:16 am in

A local electrician was found dead at the Penford plant in Cedar Rapids Thursday morning.

Cedar Rapids public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow said police, fire and medical officials were called to Penford Products, 1001 First St. SW, at 6:46 a.m. for a medical emergency. Buelow said a deceased man was found outside between two buildings near an electrical distribution area. The medical examiner was called to the scene and police do not believe any foul play took place.

Rich Good, assistant business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 405, said the deceased was Brett Brown, an employee of Acme Electric in Cedar Rapids. Brown lived in Anamosa with his wife and three children.

Good said they are awaiting official word on Brown's cause of death, but it appears as though he was electrocuted.

"We know he was in an area where he could have been exposed to high voltage," Good said. "The medical examiner hasn't determined that, (but) it's pretty safe to assume that."

"Obviously, his wife and children are first and foremost in our thoughts right now," Good added. "We definitely have to do more education with our members to keep something like this from happening, if it was an electrical-related death."

Don Barrigar, president of Acme Electric, said Brown spent his more than 20-year career with the company, starting as an apprentice and working his way up to superintendent at Penford.

"He was a good electrician," Barrigar said. "Obviously, he rose up through his profession to one of our top positions."

Barrigar said Brown was stationed at Penford, directed electrical work at the plant and served as a liaison between Penford and Acme. Acme is now working with the Occupational Safety & Hazard Administration and Penford to determine what led to Brown's death.

"We're all very heartbroken," he said.

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