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  • Fatality

    FALL RIVER -- Machine shop worker Norberto Borges, who decided last weekend he loved the United States so much he wanted to become a citizen, died Monday after a splinter of wood shot off a table saw at Homeland Builders Inc. where he worked and impaled his heart.
    Borges, 58, of 33 William St., was walking with another man, when a footlong piece of wood, which measured three-quarters of an inch by an eighth of an inch, broke and shot from the blade, according to pieced together reports.

    "It struck one man and ricocheted off his elbow and then struck Mr. Borges," Assistant District Attorney Gerald FitzGerald said Monday.

    Police were called to the scene of the commercial cabinet maker and millwork company at 218 Shove St. at 7:34 a.m. Borges was transported to St. Anne’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

    An autopsy, performed by Chief Medical Examiner James Winer listed the cause of death as accidental by an impaled object, according to police spokesman Lt. Eduardo Raposo.

    U.S. Labor Department investigators from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in Boston arrived at the plant after the accident occurred.

    OSHA spokesman John Chavez said an investigation of a fatality could take several weeks to several months.

    Chavez said that a check showed Homeland had never been inspected by OSHA before Monday for any reason.

    "Up to this point there was no particular pressing reason for OSHA to inspect this particular establishment," Chavez said. "Unfortunately now there is a reason."

    Shortly after the accident occurred, workers were seen leaving the plant. They appeared drawn and sad. Some were pale with shock.

    Homeland officials did not comment.

    Borges loved to work on a grape arbor in his yard with his brother-in-law Augustino Palhinha, who owns the Williams Street house where Borges lived.

    On Sunday, Borges told Palhinha while they were harvesting grapes that he wanted to become a citizen.

    Borges was torn between returning to the Azores, which he left four years ago, or living in Fall River.

    Two of his three grown daughters and his two grandchildren live in the Azores.

    "He loved this country, but he also loved his kids and wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren," said Sue Coelho. Palhinha’s daughter and Borges’ niece.

    Just a few months ago, Borges and his wife traveled to the Azores for the baptism of their youngest grandchild.

    "But yesterday he was telling my father he wanted to be a citizen," Coelho said.

    On Monday, shortly before her 8 a.m. shift, Coelho was walking toward her plant, New England Electro Plating at 220 Shove St., directly behind Homeland. She saw Borges being placed in an ambulance.

    First, Coelho verified the victim was Borges.

    "I ran to my work and told my supervisor what happened," she said. Then Coelho drove back to William Street, where she lives in an apartment in the block owned by her father, to tell her aunt there had been an accident.

    Ana Borges, who works at T.A. Restaurant as a dishwasher, had the day off. Coelho drove her to St. Anne’s Hospital.

    The two women waited while Borges was being treated in the emergency room.

    "A doctor came out and told us they tried to do everything possible," she said.

    The wood entered his chest and went straight into his heart, she said.

    Ana Borges, who was married to Borges for 31 years, is now in seclusion with her relatives.

    "He was a great guy," Coelho said. "I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like him. He was always there to help out."

    Another niece, Jenny Smyka, who is Coelho’s sister, said Borges loved his work and was a cabinet maker in Portugal.

    "He was a very nice guy -- quiet, helpful," said Smyka, who lives in Westport

  • #2
    A sad, sad reminder of the power and destructive capacity of woodworking tools. Please make sure to read all safety warnings and please, please keep all guarding and safety equipment in place.