Walter Timby, a spokesman for the plant, called Valderrabano's death "a terrible, terrible accident." He said Valderrabano had been a "diligent, hardworking" employee at the fourth-generation, family owned company for nearly two years.
Valderrabano, who also lived on the property, had been working with the 700-pound hay bales used to make compost for mushroom-growing, a job he had performed many times, according to Timby. It appeared Valderrabano had untied the rope securing the bottom bale and was walking around to the other side of a two-bale stack when the top bale, which was no longer supported properly, fell on him.
Timby said the company, which began operating in 1940, had never had a serious work-related injury, let alone a fatality. "Everyone was visibly upset," he said.
He said that although Valderrabano, a Mexican immigrant, had not listed a next of kin on his employment forms, a friend had located his wife in Mexico. Timby said arrangements were being made to get her a visa so she could claim her husband's body.
Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-696-3815, email@example.com, or @brandywinebits on Twitter. Read her blog, "Chester County Inbox," at www.philly.com/chescoinbox.