Managers of printing plant where pregnant woman died face jail time

The managers of a Potrero Hill printing plant are facing jail time in connection with the brutal death of a pregnant employee who was crushed by a heavy-duty cutting machine in January 2008.

Sanjay Sakhuja, the owner and CEO of the 645 Mariposa St. plant, and pressroom manager Alick Yeung, are accused of recklessly disregarding safety regulations, causing the deaths of the worker and her unborn child, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Margarita Mojica, 26, of Oakland, perished when the creasing and cutting machine, which resembles a “giant, mechanized clamshell,” unexpectedly closed in on her as she reached into it with her upper body to set up a job, prosecutors said, citing court documents.

The industrial mishap occurred around 11:30 a.m. at Digital Pre-Press International, fire officials said. Emergency crews manually released the machine and pulled Mojica out within minutes, but she was declared dead at the scene, officials said.

She was four months pregnant at the time.

A yearlong investigation by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health found gross violations at the plant that likely caused the fatal accident, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said.

According to court documents, workers at the plant were not trained to safely operate the machine. For example, they were not instructed to turn off the machine’s power before reaching into the machine to set up jobs, prosecutors said.

Also, the plant manager is required by law to make certain the machine is shut off during set-up operations, Derryck said. Additionally, the machine that crushed Mojica lacked required safety devices, prosecutors said, citing court documents.

Sakhuja and Yeung, charged with involuntary manslaughter due to the safety violations, are each facing up to four years in state prison, Derryck said. They also could be slapped with up to $250,000 in fines apiece, she said.

Sakhuja’s company, Pre-Press International, faces as much as $1.5 million in fines in connection with the fatality, Derryck added.

The defendants were expected to surrender to police Monday, which means they could be in court as soon as Tuesday, prosecutors said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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