MEC&F Expert Engineers : Pascual Gonzalez-Hernandez, 42, died after becoming trapped between a laundry conveyor belt and a dryer at the Ecodirect Laundry in north suburban Niles, Illinois

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pascual Gonzalez-Hernandez, 42, died after becoming trapped between a laundry conveyor belt and a dryer at the Ecodirect Laundry in north suburban Niles, Illinois


Niles police opened a death investigation into what they said appears to be an accident at Ecodirect Laundry, an industrial-scale laundry facility in the 6900 block of N. Austin.

The victim was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office as Pascual Gonzalez-Hernandez, 42, of the 5700 block of Ridge Avenue, Chicago. Police said the death appeared to be accidental, but the investigation remains open pending toxicology tests by the medical examiner.

Gonzalez-Hernandez was working alone just before 10 p.m. Tuesday (May 8) when police said video surveillance showed he attempted to retrieve a towel caught hanging on a dryer in front of a conveyor belt system. He apparently became trapped between the conveyor and dryers. Police said the conveyor system is seen in surveillance moving up then stopping after Gonzalez-Hernandez went to retrieve the towel.

Another employee discovered Gonzalez-Hernandez’s body shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when checking to see why the washer and dryer system was not working.

Niles Fire Dept. Lt. Rich Scipioni was the commander of responding fire units at the scene. He described the conveyor system as moving wet clothing dropped in tight mounds on the belt (called “pods”) from the washer to the dryer. The conveyor belt is about three feet wide but can stand as tall as seven feet off the ground. The conveyor system itself can be moved by an operator both vertically and horizontally to move laundry between the appropriate machines, Scipioni said.

Police said officials with the medical examiner’s office responded to the scene and transported the man’s remains.


A 42-year-old Chicago man died Tuesday night in an industrial accident after becoming trapped between a laundry conveyor belt and a dryer in north suburban Niles.

About 10:40 p.m., officers were sent to EcoDirect Laundry and Cleaners, 6977 N. Austin, for a report of a man stuck in a conveyor belt, Niles police said in a statement.

Pascual Gonzalez-Hernandez was found dead at the scene, according to police. Investigators believe he was trying to remove a towel that was hanging from the dryer in front of the conveyor belt when he became stuck about 10 p.m.

He was found by another employee when they noticed a washer and the dryer were not working, police said.

An autopsy Wednesday found Gonzalez-Hernandez died of head injuries in an industrial accident, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. He lived in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor was not immediately available to comment.



The death of a man found trapped in an industrial laundry machine in Niles Tuesday night appears to have been an accident, according to police. Fire and police personnel were called around 10:41 p.m. to Ecodirect Laundry at 6977 N. Austin Ave. for a report that a man had gotten stuck in a conveyor belt used for wet laundry. They found a man stuck between a dryer and a conveyor in the main dryer area of the business, police said. Niles Fire Department paramedics were unable to find any signs of life.

Pascual Gonzalez-Hernandez, 42, of Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, was pronounced dead shortly after 11 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy Wednesday found he died as a result of head injuries and ruled his death an accident.

In interviews with police, fellow employees reported they had not seen Gonzalez-Hernandez since about 9:30 p.m., according to Niles Police Cmdr. Robert Tornabene.

A review of surveillance video showed that Gonzalez-Hernandez was working along around 9:56 p.m. when he tried to remove a towel that was hanging from a dryer in front of the conveyor mechanism, Tornabene said.

The video shows the system move upward and then stop, at which point police believe Gonzalez-Hernandez was stuck in the conveyor system and the dryer.

Another employee realized the washer and dryer had stopped working about 30 minutes later and discovered Gonzalez-Hernandez's body after checking on the machines, police learned.

All evidence at the scene indicates the death was accidental, Tornabene said, pending toxicology results from the medical examiner's office. The office determined "crainiocerebral injuries" from an industrial accident was the cause and manner of Gonzalez-Hernandez's death.

Founded in 2002, Ecodirect is an industrial laundry company specializing in cleaning linens for local hotels.