An 86-year-old Black Woman Died at a FedEx Facility… And She Isn’t The First

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A Black woman is the fifth person to die from an injury while working at the FedEx World Hub.

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Screenshot: Action News 5

The employee who died in a freak accident at the FedEx World Hub two weeks ago was identified as an elderly Black woman. As if this discovery isn’t disturbing enough, authorities say she’s the fifth person to die following an injury at the job.

Verna Mae Jackson, 86, was a package handler at the Memphis FedEx facility where larger freights are being shipped to major airports including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, per The Daily Memphian. The report says a tug driver was pulling a load of mail but didn’t use his horn to signal he was moving. Jackson scurried behind to grab a loose envelope that was sticking out of the container and seconds later, she was crushed.

Police say her body was found underneath a dolly weighing 2,500 pounds. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A report from Action News 5 found she was the fifth Black person to die at the facility in the past six years.

Read more from Action News 5:

It’s the busiest time of year for FedEx and one of the hardest for families of loved ones who’ve lost their lives at the World Hub.

One year ago, [Nov. 30], to the day, Angelo Scott died after the UTV he was driving was hit by an industrial truck. Jessica James died last February after the forklift she was operating fell on top of her. Duntate Young was killed in 2019 after being hit by a shipping container door. And grandmother Ellen Gladney was found under a motorized mobile conveyor belt system in 2017.

Now, why was an elderly woman working in this seemingly dangerous environment anyway? Attorney Jeff Rosenblum, who has represented the families of at least 10 victims of Hub-related deaths, says what led to Jackson’s death had little to do with age. Instead, he argued that the increase of activity during holiday season promotes a culture of emphasizing packages over people. He also said a lack of training for temporary workers and the neglect to update facility equipment creates additional safety issues.

“Miss Jackson loved her job. It gave her purpose. She loved her co-workers. She loved the camaraderie. She was supportive of them and they were supportive of her,” Rosenblum said. “I don’t want to take that self-worth away from anybody who has the ability to work. They have the right to make that decision for themselves, and if they think they do, then the employer has the obligation to determine if they do.”

FedEx was previously fined up to $50,000 for the deaths at this particular Hub. The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration uncovered a series of violations with the Hub that FedEx allegedly agreed to address, according to the report. It’s unclear if TOSHA launched an additional probe following Ms. Jackson’s death.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends who are mourning their loved one. Safety is our highest priority, and we are investigating the circumstances of this accident,” FedEx said in response to the incident.

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