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Grain Elevator Company Pleads Guilty In Teen Death Case

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An image of the grain elevator (credit: CBS)

An image of the grain elevator (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – It was an emotional scene in Denver federal court Friday as a grain elevator company pleaded guilty to charges involving the death of a teenage boy.

Seventeen-year-old Cody Rigsby was killed in 2009 when he fell into grain and was suffocated.

Cody Rigsby mother, Virontka Rigsby, said if her son’s death can make a difference in work place safety, it will not have been in vain.

cody rigsby Grain Elevator Company Pleads Guilty In Teen Death Case

Cody Rigsby was one of several teenagers working at the large Tempel grain elevator in Haswell in southeast Colorado. He was engulfed by grain as it flowed from a bin into a truck and died.

In federal court Kelly Spitzer pleaded guilty on behalf Tempel Grain Elevator, Llp. to violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and playing a role in the Cody Rigsby’s death.

“From the very beginning they understood that the tragedy could have been prevented,” Tempel Grain Elevator attorney John Richilano said.

Cody Rigsby was a high school junior.

“This is harder for me today than it was the day I lost him,” Virontka Rigsby said. “I knew it was dangerous. I tried to talk to him about this. He said, ‘They love me there. They would never let me get hurt.'”

The company failed to provide safety harnesses for its workers that include numerous minors. It faced up to more than $1 million in OSHA fines, but ended up with only a $50,000 fine in the end.

Cody Rigsby’s family will receive $500,000 from the company, but his mother says it’s not the money that matters.

“If Cody’s death can make a difference, then Cody would have been satisfied,” Virontka Rigsby said.

After bitterly criticizing the company in court for failing to contact her since the accident to apologize, there was a heart-rending scene when court was adjourned. Spitzer, who had just entered the guilty plea, and Virontka Rigsby hugged and cried.

The sentencing took place immediately following the guilty plea.

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