Body found inside pest control truck; foster boy, man injured

Date: 2011-02-14

BY ADAM PLAYFORD AND ALEXANDRA SELTZER
PALM BEACH POST

WEST PALM BEACH -- A body in a bag was found in the bed of a pesticide service truck hours after the Miami man driving had pulled to the shoulder of Interstate 95, and he and his son were taken to the hospital.

George Barahona, 53, and Victor Vocter, 10, were in a small red Toyota pickup that pulled onto the shoulder of I-95 north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard before 7 a.m. Monday, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Tim Frith said. The two were exposed to some kind of chemical, he said.

Police and hazardous materials crews knew chemicals, even acid, were involved. But when Department of Environmental Protection workers shifted some containers in the bed of the truck Monday afternoon, they found a suspicious bag.

That bag had a body in it, West Palm Beach Police spokesman Chase Scott said late Monday night. “It’s really tragic,” Scott said. “It’s not pretty inside the truck.”

Scott said the father was taken to Columbia Medical Center with a unspecified medical condition caused by the chemicals and the son was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center with a seizure.

The Department of Children and Families also had investigators at the scene because a foster child was involved, DCF spokesman Mark Riordan said.
“We’re making sure every child at the scene or back home is protected,” Riordan said.

Apparently a Road Ranger had seen Barahona’s truck in the same spot about two hours before stopping, Scott said. Frith said both were conscious and speaking when rescuers arrived at the scene early Monday. The truck from Miami-Dade was marked with a CJ Pest Control insignia and Miami phone number, he said. The phone number was registered to a single-family home in the 11500 block of Southwest 47th Terrace in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade police went to Barahona’s home Monday afternoon to check on the other children and the property, Scott said. Even the FBI arrived at the I-95 scene Monday afternoon to assist.

Before ever finding a body, West Palm Beach Fire Rescue found an open plastic container of gas that was unlabeled. Frith said it appeared to be an acid, but that was not confirmed. He said the firefighters wondered why they would have the chemical in the truck.

Troopers were sent to the business’ location but were unable to make contact with anyone.

A fireman who walked up to the vehicle was overcome by the smell and a decontamination procedure was performed on him at the scene. Also, a Road Ranger was exposed to the chemical. Paramedics checked him out but didn’t take him to the hospital, Frith said.

The scene caused severe traffic delays on northbound I-95 between Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and 45th Street.

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