What happened to Duncan Alexander Burrell Gordon? – Queen City News

GREER, SC (WSPA) – What happened to Duncan Alexander “Alex” Burrell Gordon, the South Carolina man who allegedly fell into a shredder at a recycling plant?

Alex Gordon is now presumed dead, after falling into a recycling shredder, but due to complications the case is still centered on the search for a missing person.

7NEWS gathered information about his disappearance by interviewing his family, lawyers and law enforcement.


May 4, 2022 started off as a typical day for the Gordon family. Michael Gordon and his son Alex Gordon shared a meal around midnight during the night shift at Industrial Recovery and Recycling in Greer.

After they finished eating, father and son separated.

After he finished eating around midnight, Michael Gordon went to check the extruder’s vacuum system, which heats and shapes the plastic. It had suddenly clogged, preventing the machine from working properly. Meanwhile, her 20-year-old son, Alex Gordon, is said to have returned to the shredder at the recycling plant, located at 3100 Green Road, Greer.

An hour later, Michael Gordon completed the repairs and returned to the chipper.

Alex Gordon

Her son, however, was nowhere to be found. Maybe he went somewhere to take a break? Maybe he’s taking a nap somewhere? Michael Gordon couldn’t be sure where he had been, but he wasn’t there.

Then another problem arose. Something was slowing down the flow of material on a conveyor belt going to an extruder.

Michael Gordon continued to search for his son, while other workers emptied the silos feeding the conveyor and put the contents in a box to sort later.

The workers, however, noticed something strange on the treadmill.

When he returned and saw the strange material, Michael turned off the shredder and went to look inside the machine itself to see if Alex Gordon had fallen inside, but no trace of human remains appeared. could be found.

They looked again at the handful of documents.

“It looks like a cat,” recalled one employee who said at the time.

In the past, animals such as opossums, cats, rats and snakes have sometimes taken up residence in the recycling material. They sometimes walked through the shredder by accident, which looked like the strange material they were looking at now.

Without further evidence, the grinder was reignited.

“If he fell into the machine, there would be blood everywhere,” one employee recalled, telling his supervisor at the time.

Michael Gordon filed a missing person report on May 5 and told sheriff’s deputies about the box with the strange contents that had come out of the conveyor belt, but when the deputies arrived they were told there was no had no “remains” to inspect.

On May 9, Michael Gordon again attempted to have the remains inspected by authorities, despite being furloughed by the factory. He went to the factory with deputies and factory managers at the same time. Michael Gordon started removing strange materials by hand from under a treadmill.

More than a month passed before authorities determined that the remains they thought belonged to a cat matched Alex Gordon’s DNA.

Meanwhile, the machine continued to run.

Industrial recovery and recycling
Industrial recovery and recycling, Greer.

What happened to Alex Gordon?

Industrial recovery and recycling takes old plastics and carpets and grinds them into reusable products, including polypropylene.

In order to process recyclables, the company uses a forklift that lifts a container that dumps the material into the shredder, according to OSHA.

After dumping the material into the shredder, an operator sometimes climbs onto the platform and cleans the trash can of any debris, OSHA said in its citation.

“The trail of evidence leads us to believe that Alex Gordon may have simply fallen into the shredder while cleaning out the trash,” said attorney Charles Hodge, who is representing the missing man’s father.

“The machine was operational at the time we believe he cleared the debris. We don’t know for sure, but it makes sense. And again, we have to verify it through proper investigation, but the machine was working. and was working. And it’s very, very powerful,” Hodge said.

Hodge said he would seek damages through the Workers’ Compensation Board.

“It’s particular because we’re in the very unfortunate position of having to have Alex declared dead. And so it’s kind of a concurrent process,” he said.

“We know that this machine, this particular machine had already been investigated by OSHA. And I think it had to do with the railing,” he said.

The machine

In 2017, Industrial Recovery and Recycling was cited by OSHA for failing to protect employees working on its shredders, most of which are Vecoplan RG62/200 single-shaft shredders. The German-made grinders run at 200 horsepower and pulverize almost anything in them, including metal.

Single shaft shredder Vecoplan RG62/200
Vecoplan RG62/200 single shaft shredder for industrial recovery and recycling

“Two employees approximately eleven (11) feet above the cutting rotor of the Vecoplan crusher, serial number: 9222010, the feed hopper were not protected by a guardrail system, a netting system of safety, a travel restraint system, or a personal fall arrest system in building 2,” according to the 2017 OSHA citation.

The employer provided body belts and connectors to prevent employees from falling into the shredders in buildings 1 and 4 but not in building 2, according to plant manager Brian Morton, in the 2017 report of the OSHA.

According to the 2017 OSHA report, the top rail of the feed hopper guardrail system was approximately 24.5 inches high.

Vecoplan RG62/200 single shaft shredder for industrial recovery and recycling

Following OSHA’s findings, Industrial Recovery and Recycling raised the guardrail platforms that surrounded the chippers to 45 inches, according to the 2017 OSHA report, in accordance with state safety guidelines.

Duncan Alexander Burrell Gordon was about six feet tall, well above the roughly 3.5-foot railing that kept people from falling into the chipper. It probably wouldn’t be high enough to stop him if he fell.

Chronology of events and late response

OSHA opened a new investigation at Industrial Recovery and Recycling on June 16, more than a month after family and friends suspected Alex Gordon fell into the shredder.

The investigation is complicated by the difficulty of finding more remains.

With no death certificate, no body or even more evidence, the family is still in limbo. The disappearance of Alex Gordon continues to be a missing person case.

Here is a timeline of events 7NEWS has organized, based on interviews with family, lawyers and law enforcement officials.

May 4, 2022 Alex Gordon arrives for the night shift
May 5, 2022 Alex Gordon is missing
May 6, 2022 Spartanburg County deputies visit plant but find no evidence
May 9, 2022 Michael Gordon shows ‘leftovers’ to MPs. The remains were misidentified as non-human
June 10, 2022 Remains found in plant identified linked to Alex Gordon with DNA
June 14, 2022 The Spartanburg County coroner is contacted and visits the plant for an inspection
June 16, 2022 OSHA is contacted and initiates an investigation with Industrial Recovery and Recycling
July 6, 2022 The coroner could not issue a death certificate as no body was found

We previously reported that Alex Gordon was reported missing on May 5 after he was last seen working night shifts at Industrial Recycling and Recovery, Inc. located at 3100 Green Road in Greer.

On May 6, a uniformed patrol supervisor from the sheriff’s office visited the plant but found no evidence, according to Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger.

On May 9, Michael Gordon, sheriff’s deputies and plant managers gather at Industrial Recovery and Recycling to inspect the “remains” found under the conveyor belt. The material was tested on the spot, but the results came back “negative” for human blood, according to the coroner.

Meanwhile, the shredder continued to run.

A month later, on June 10, an additional test for DNA from remains found at the factory came back as a positive match for Alex Gordon. The coroner became involved in the case at that time.

After meeting with the sheriff’s office, the coroner’s office arranged additional examinations for the material. Results showed the remains were consistent with human fat, microscopic skin particles and small pieces of bone, according to the coroner’s report.

“The material was dried, so it was hydrated in a lab later. After hydration, it tested positive for human blood,” Clevenger said in a report.

These remains had been incorrectly identified as “non-human”, based on a test performed at the factory, which delayed authorities’ response to the crash as a fatality. Meanwhile, the shredder continued to operate, destroying further evidence.

The search for additional remains is now complicated by the fact that 60,000 pounds of plastic material was processed by the crusher after it went missing, the plant told authorities.

Overall, about two ounces of remains were recovered by deputies from the treadmill, an amount roughly the size of a golf ball, the coroner’s office said.

And after

Lawyer Buck Brandt, who is also representing the father, said it could take months for Alex Gordon to be declared dead. In the meantime, he said the discovery process of the workers’ compensation lawsuit would lead to more evidence that would hopefully provide proof that Alex Gordon died in the machine.

“We have contacted the family and the recycling company about this. We are unable to issue a conventional death certificate in this case. State regulations require another remedy for the family to obtain closure as there is no body. The family has been informed of the process,” the coroner said in his report.

“My office is terminating our investigation into [a] missing person. We will not comment on any issues as other agencies are investigating,” he said.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating what happened to Alex as the missing person.

Industrial Recovery and Recycling did not respond to a reporter’s inquiry about the investigation.

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