OPD: Death of Chewy employee believed to have been caused by medical emergency


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Robert Pete [Submitted Photo]
A Chewy employee, Robert Pete, 49, who died while operating a stand-up forklift, may have died from a heart attack.

A report released by the Ocala Police Department states that “pending final determination from the Medical Examiner, this appears to have been a medical emergency. Initial review of the case suggests that [Robert] may have had a heart attack.”

Ocala Police was dispatched to the Chewy distribution center, located at 3380 NW 35th AVE Road after a forklift incident was reported.

Ocala Fire Rescue was already on the scene when officers arrived.


Employees stated that they were going on break when they noticed Pete unresponsive on his forklift, at which time they began screaming for help.

The report states that Pete was “pinned between the forklift and a shelf beam.”

Chewy employee Theodore Riffle told police that he used Pete’s ID card to activate and move the forklift so he and Chewy supervisors Nancy Jenkins and Jason Nolan could administer CPR.

While doing CPR, employee Brian Peterson arrived with a one-way valve mask and took over CPR until medics arrived.

As medics worked on Pete, police interviewed Chewy employees.

According to Joshua Rose, head of safety for Chewy, the forklifts automatically shut down upon impact with any object. Rose said they can only be reactivated by an employee ID card.

Rose told police that Pete activated his forklift at 1211 hours and that it was reactivated at 1236 hours by Riffle, which confirmed what Riffle had told police.

Despite all lifesaving efforts, Pete was pronounced dead at 1:08 p.m. Sunday, at Ocala Regional Medical Center.

Investigators said that they do not suspect foul play and that there was no physical trauma to Pete’s body.

OSHA is currently conducting its own investigation.


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