Death likely came quickly for a 34-year-old Anaheim father of three who became entangled in a mobile asphalt crusher in 2013, a Riverside County Sheriff's pathologist testified Friday.
Dr. Mark McCormack said Rolando Anaya had an open wound that extended from his head to well down his back, separating his spinal cord. He said Anaya likely had lost any feeling in the area before he died.
Anaya also had burns and abrasions on his left thigh, McCormack said. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in the man's body, the pathologist said.
McCormack's testimony came as trial continued before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing the negligence and products liability claims brought on behalf of Anaya's three children against North Dakota-based General Equipment & Supplies Inc., which sold the machine to Anaya's employer, R.J. Noble Co., an asphalt plant in an unincorporated area near Corona.
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Anaya's two sons are currently 17 and 11 years old; and his daughter is 14. The suit was filed in September 2015 by Eliza Perez, who was Anaya's domestic partner.
Anaya was killed on Oct. 7, 2013, after he became entangled in the conveyor belt of the device while cleaning debris and loose rock, according to plaintiffs' attorney Donald Liddy.
The area below the cone crusher and tail pulley of the conveyor belt did not have a protective guard, Liddy said. There also were no pull cords allowing a worker in the vicinity to stop the machine immediately in an emergency, according to Liddy, who said the device had a design defect.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court told jurors they had time to look away if they wanted to before Liddy used a large screen to show a photo of Anaya trapped in the device.
In other testimony, Jerry Kern, one of General Equipment's founders, said via a deposition previously recorded on video that the machine would have had an emergency-stop button in the control room that would have allowed the operator to shut it down immediately if necessary. Asked by the attorney questioning him if people can be killed working around the device, he replied, "They can be. It's dangerous equipment."