PINELLAS PARK — An 82-year-old woman who wandered away from the customer area of a recycling center was killed Tuesday when a front-end loader knocked her down and ran her over, police said.
The driver never saw her, police said, and her death was classified as an accident.
The incident took place around 11:40 a.m. at Recycling Services of Florida, located at 3560 126th Ave. N in an industrial area just south of Ulmerton Road. The woman was identified as Ida Kuhlmann Pacheco of Pinellas Park.
"We never want to see tragedies like this," said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Michael Lynch. "They are never a pretty thing."
Pacheco was a frequent customer at Recycling Services of Florida, police said. She drove her small pickup truck there on Tuesday morning carrying recyclables to be weighed and sold at the plant.
But for reasons unknown to police, Pacheco wandered from the customer area and went outside the building, to a roadway used by front-loaders. There, a front-end loader was carrying a pile of recyclable materials to dump into a truck for removal.
The driver did not see her wander near the left side of the machine and get knocked down, police said. Then police said she became caught beneath the wheels of the front-end loader as it rolled over her.
But the driver did not realize what had happened until after making a lap outside and then seeing Pacheco on the ground, Lynch said. That is when officers and paramedics were called to the scene.
Pacheco was caught under a Cat 930M Small Wheel Loader, which weighs more than 30,000 pounds, according to the manufacturer's website.
Pinellas Park police are still investigating the incident, but said they believe it was an accident and do not expect any criminal charges to be filed.
A woman who answered the phone for the recycling plant said the business had no comment. According to its website, Recycling Services of Florida is a third-generation family-owned business with locations in Pinellas Park and Brooksville.
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