Granite Falls man dies at Hickory facility

A man died Tuesday morning after he was trapped between a tractor-trailer and a loading dock at Institutional Food House in Hickory.

Jerry Whitman, 49, of Granite Falls, was crushed between a tractor-trailer and a loading dock at Institutional Food House, located at 543 12th St. Drive NW, according to Hickory Police Maj. Clyde Deal. Whitman, an IFH employee, was working at the facility at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when the incident occurred. He was pronounced dead on the scene from injuries resulting from the accident's impact.

Whitman worked with IFH for more than 10 years and was a spotter for the company who assisted in moving trucks on the lot, according to IFH communications vice president Kimberly George.

"We work very hard to make sure the facility is safe," George said. "We have many safety procedures."

On Aug. 6, 2007, another similar incident occurred at IFH when a tractor-trailer rolled over Douglas Lynnes. Lynnes was a truck driver for IFH from North Dakota. George said Lynnes was not an employee at the Hickory facility.

Whitman was married, but additional information on his family was not available as of press time Tuesday.

"We are working with the family and giving them victim's assistance," George said. "We are concerned about the family and employees. We are providing the assistance and counseling they need."

No charges were filed as of press time Tuesday. Deal said HPD investigators worked on the scene most of Tuesday and will forward their findings to the District Attorney's Office for review. The exact cause of the accident is undetermined, and HPD will review video surveillance from a dock camera system to review the timeline leading up to the fatal accident.

Police have not released the name of the truck driver involved.

IFH was founded in 1966 and is a food service distributor. Its parent company is Alex Lee Inc., and is a uniquely diversified food company with headquarters in Hickory. Alex Lee Inc. is comprised of: IFH, Merchants Distributors Inc. and Lowes Foods, according IFH's website.