published Saturday, October 26th, 2013

State officials investigating death at Chattanooga's Wrigley Manufacturing plant

Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health officials are investigating Chattanooga's Wrigley Manufacturing plant after a 34-year-old woman died Monday.

Mandie Rachael Creel Chitwood died hours after she was seriously injured in an accident at Wrigley on Sunday afternoon. The details of the accident have not been released by TOSHA or Wrigley.

"It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of one of our associates as a result of an accident onsite at our Chattanooga production facility," said Caroline Sherman, U.S. manager of marketing communications, in a prepared statement. "Our deepest condolences go to our colleague's family and friends during this difficult time, and out of respect for them, we will not comment about this further."

The investigation by TOSHA started Monday and could last as long as six months, said Jeff Hentschel, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

"They'll be doing witness statements and collecting information for the next few weeks," he said.

In the past 10 years, the candymaker's Chattanooga plant has been cited twice for safety violations by TOSHA. Both instances happened in 2005 and only one -- failing to provide adequate first aid training -- was considered a serious offense. Sherman said the company focuses on safety as a first priority.

"No injury is acceptable and creating a safe working environment for our associates is and always will be our number one priority," she said. "In addition to compliance with TOSHA, we self-impose programs to further ensure the safety of our team members."

Those programs include formal monthly safety training, monthly peer safety coaching and an annual associate safety pledge, she said.

Chitwood was a wife and mother who graduated from Ringgold High School in 1997, according to her obituary. She enjoyed playing softball and attended Calvary Baptist Church.

Family, friends and acquaintances wrote dozens of messages to remember Chitwood at her online memorial.

"Mandy had a beautiful heart and soul," wrote Ronda Johnson. "She had a wonderful sense of humor and always had a kind word for everyone she talked to. I was lucky to have known her and consider her my friend."

Contact Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6525

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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