At a facility that processes as many as 5,400 head of cattle daily, halts in operations aren’t commonplace in functions at the JBS USA meat-packing plant in Greeley.
However, there was an exception earlier this month.
Aurelio Espino-Hernandez worked at the Greeley beef plant for more than 26 years, before his death at a family member’s home on April 27.
He was 49.
At 10 a.m. on May 2, a mass of Christian burial at St. Peter’s Catholic Church took place.
And at exactly the same time, the JBS Greeley beef management team gathered around a clean, white cutting block on the loin table that was once occupied by Espino-Hernandez. David Espinoza — his front-line supervisor — ceremoniously placed Espino-Hernandez’s clean white uniform, hard hat and ID card on the cutting block.
The processing manager, Hicham Timejardine, hit the e-stop button, halting operations at exactly 10 a.m., sounding an alarm that signified a moment of silence for Espino-Hernandez, as the entire processing floor bowed their heads in respect for their friend.
For almost a full week, the cutting block on the loin table remained untouched, out of respect for Espino-Hernandez.
“I had never, ever seen that happen before,” said Linda Sughroue, a 30-year-employee at the JBS plant. “It was an amazing, emotional thing to see.”
His family, too, was overwhlemed by JBS honoring Espino-Hernandez — a father of five, and grandfather of nine.
“It really meant a lot to us,” said his wife, Laura, who added that the cause of his death is still being looked into. He had always been a healthy person, she explained, but went to sleep one night at his brother’s house and didn’t wake up. “What JBS did really moved us.
“And he was deserving. He gave a lot to JBS.”
Espino-Hernandez was born on Nov. 13, 1964, in La Joya, Poanas, Durango, Mexico.
As was noted in a statement from JBS, “he was a soft-spoken, dedicated, hard-working man who was respected by all the employees at the plant for his technical meat-cutting skills and friendly personality.
“Aurelio will be missed by his family, co-workers and friends. He will also be missed by JBS.”