KENOSHA, WIS. — An ordinary night's work at the chocolate company turned dangerous for Donovan Garcia early Friday when he fell into a vat of the molten goo and was trapped for more than two hours.
"I was pushing the chocolate down into the vat because it was stuck," said Garcia, 21. "It came loose, and I just slid down the hopper into the chocolate."
Garcia's co-workers at the Debelis Corp. first tried to pull Garcia out, but his pants were caught on a roller. That's when they called 911 and the Kenosha fire and police departments both responded, said Police Sgt. Eric Larsen. Garcia wasn't extracted until 1:30 a.m., more than two hours after the accident.
The viscous chocolate was warm - about 110 degrees, according to Capt. Greg Sinnen of the Kenosha Fire Department. For comparison purposes: The water in hot tubs usually is kept at 103 or 104 degrees.
Garcia can laugh about it now, but not at the time.
"I thought I was going to die," Garcia said.
Garcia, who has worked at the company almost two years, said he was almost chest deep in the chocolate, the dark variety.
"It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," Garcia said. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move."
Garcia said his colleagues added cocoa butter to the vat in an attempt to thin the chocolate. Sinnen said firefighters on the ladder company that responded to the accident helped scoop the chocolate out of the vat.
He was taken to the Aurora Medical Center for treatment.