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inquiry into death at fatty arbuckles

01 January 2000
inquiry into death at fatty arbuckles

by Donald Nannestad and angela frewin

POLICE and safety investigators have been called in to investigate the death of a teenager electrocuted in an accident at the Lincoln branch of US-style diner chain Fatty Arbuckles.

Kitchen assistant 17-year-old Mark Thorne was cleaning the kitchen floor when the fatal accident occurred late on Tuesday, 18 August.

Dick Foley, detective chief inspector at Lincoln City Police, said the Health & Safety Executive believed Thorne had come into contact with a plate warmer that was later found to have a faulty connection. It had become live after short-circuiting and the inquiry is now seeking to establish how this had happened.

Contrary to some early reports, Fatty Arbuckles did not close down its entire chain of 50 restaurants the day after the accident. Executive chairman Ric Belfield said the Lincoln outlet was closed as a precautionary measure and as a mark of respect to the dead teenager's family. It will only reopen when the investigation has concluded.

However, Belfield said that all electrical equipment in kitchens across the chain was thoroughly checked after the accident.

He said that plate warmers were not commonly used by the chain, and that this particular device had been inherited when the company took back a former franchise. Only one other restaurant has a plate warmer, he added, and this was of a different type.

The Lincoln coroner has been informed of the death, although a date has yet to be set for the inquest.

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