An exploding beer keg killed a brewery worker at the Redhook Ale Brewery on Tuesday. 26 year old Ben Harris was filling a plastic keg with air around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. This is a routine procedure that’s part of a cleaning process for used kegs. The keg exploded and debris struck Harris in the head and chest. He was transported to the hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Harris leaves behind a wife and unborn child.
Redhook Brewery released a statement to its Facebook page:
We are saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Portsmouth brewery this morning resulting in the death of one of our employees. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family.
We are doing everything in our power to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident, and have closed down all non-essential operations at the Portsmouth brewery, including the pub, while the investigation continues.
We believe it would not be appropriate to comment further until the investigation is concluded. Our sympathy is with his family and everyone touched by the tragedy.
The Redhook Brewery and it’s Cataqua Pub remained closed while the company comes to grips with its loss and investigates the cause of the accident.
Steve Souza, head brewer at nearby Milly’s, a microbrewery in Manchester, which uses a similar cleaning process where air pressure is used to empty and clean kegs, told CBS affiliate WTSP 10 that a tragic incident like this is almost unheard of.
“I really don’t know how it could happen because it’s rare. I want to know what happened exactly so it doesn’t happen here.”
OSHA has opened an investigation into the freak accident. “The investigation will determine which workplace standards were in place and if the worker complied with those standards.”.
A spokesperson with Redhook Brewery contacted the Huffington Post and released the following statement:
We are grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received from the community after Tuesday’s tragic accident in Portsmouth. Ben Harris had been a member of the Redhook family for more than seven years, first working at the Cataqua Pub and most recently as part of our brewing operations team. His wife, Alysha Miller, is expecting his child and is also part of the Redhook family as a server in our pub. Ben was a wonderful man, a dedicated member of our team and a friend to all who knew him. We are heartbroken by this tragedy and are grieving with the family. We would like to thank the community and the media for respecting the family’s privacy as well as that of our employees as we mourn together. We would also like to thank our family of employees for their support in this process, as this is an extremely difficult time for all of us and our top priority is taking care of Ben’s family and our team. There is an assessment underway to reveal exactly what happened Tuesday morning. Although the investigation is still in process, there are several facts that we can confirm:
- The accident was caused by an exploding plastic keg;
- The keg was not owned or used by Redhook Brewery or any other CBA brewery;
- It is normal protocol for the brewery to receive kegs that aren’t ours from time to time;
- Ben was handling the keg at the time it exploded.
It is extremely important to us that we understand exactly what happened before we share additional information about this tragedy. There is an evaluation in progress and we can assure you that we will issue further information when the report is complete.
In the meantime, we ask for continued thoughts and prayers for Ben’s family, friends, and everyone touched by this accident.
The family asks that memorial contributions be made to: The Alysha Miller Harris Baby Fund c/o TD Bank, 20 International Drive, Portsmouth, NH, 03801, (603) 430-3812.
This is one of those stories that makes me feel weepy. There’s no better word for it than tragedy. I’d say she’s a lady that needs all the help she can get. Our thoughts, support, and wishes go out to the family and the folks at the brewery. If you’re in a position where you can spare a few bucks, give the bank a ring or send a check.