A beloved baker and devoted single mother lost her life in a freak kitchen accident when she was sucked into an industrial mixer while batching pastries on Wednesday morning.
Utah resident Carmen “Jackie” Lindhardt was prepping dessert inside a bakery run by Reams, a major Salt Lake City-headquartered grocery chain, when the massive metal machine’s augers somehow yanked hold of the woman, mangling almost her entire upper body.
“At least the upper half of her body, if not a little bit more, was pulled down into the vat,” Sandy Police Sgt. Dean Carriger told The Daily Beast.
A fellow worker rushed to kill the power switch after “hearing her screams” but Sgt. Carriger said that while the coworker was successful in shutting off the machine, “the augers still continued a couple rotations...which continued inflicting injury on her.”
Though the cause of the heinous incident has yet to be determined, investigators are clinging to evidence that the 45-year-old’s loose-fitting attire was “a factor” in the fatal entanglement.
“She reached into the mixing vat which is at least three feet tall and the loose clothing got caught and spun around within those augers,” Sgt. Carriger said, stressing that he is unaware if there was a video camera on site to capture the incident.
Also unknown is the amount of time Lindhardt was inside the mixer or how fast the spinning mechanisms were going. “It happened so quick and she surely was pulled into it instantaneously, and with a couple of augers spinning—your body doesn’t move that way,” the sergeant said.
“Nobody knows why,” he said. “And we may never know why she chose to reach in there.”
An autopsy report, which will include toxicology tests, was being conducted Thursday, and those findings could take weeks.
Gone is the woman who had accomplished a small slice of the American dream.
Lindhardt had become a promising cook who built her life from scratch in Utah, rising from humble roots as a gas station clerk in California. She originally immigrated to the States from Montevideo, Uruguay, a few years ago.
Lindhardt’s passion may have been food, but she lived for her son, Pablo.
“Oh, man, they were inseparable,” Jackie’s ex-husband Lester Lindhardt told The Daily Beast.
She had already been abandoned by her first husband (Pablo’s biological father) who traveled with her to the U.S. before quickly bailing on the family and returning to Uruguay. “He took off and left his son. I could never do that,” Lester Lindhardt said.
So for Jackie Lindhardt, her Pablo, now 19 years old, was her world. “He was definitely a mama’s boy and must be torn apart. I don’t know how he’s going to go on without her,” Lester continued.
He added that it was unlikely she committed suicide or was behaving recklessly.
“She’s been around and very skilled and very professional,” he said. “Something must have distracted her. It freaks me out even thinking about it.”
Jackie Lindhardt also knew her way around industrial mixers and virtually every other culinary tool. “She had handled mixers like that before,” her ex-husband confirmed. “She’s been all the way through the kitchen and nothing is new to her.”
It’s unclear if any of Reams’s personnel were required to be formally trained or licensed to operate the heavy kitching machinery. The Sandy cops confirmed members from OSHA were on-scene to assist in the investigation and taking inventory and the condition of Reams machinery.
Yesterday, Reams General Manager Barry Bessey released a statement extending condolences to Lindhardt’s family. It read that the bakery had been shuttered “to determine the cause of this tragic accident and to provide additional safety training and procedures to our team members.”
It wasn’t hard for Jackie Lindhardt to attract friends.
In fact, she met her husband through mutual friends and they “hit it off” before getting hitched “three months later” and honeymooning in Reno, Nevada, where they attended a world grand prix motorcycle race, Lester Lindhardt told The Daily Beast.
Together they founded their own coffee shop, Bakery and Brews, in Murray, Utah.
“Everything was made from scratch, all the South American pastries—she was really good at it; an incredible cook,” Lester Lindhardt told us.
Jackie was master of the kitchen, and left the coffee roasting and brewing duties to her husband.
They parted ways four years ago in large part because of the overwhelming demands of running the shop.
“The financials caused us to break up with all the stress of the business and running the restaurant for 16 hours a day for so many years,” Lester said.
Back on her own, her ex-husband said, she turned to her favorite fallback: food. “She had to get a job and she went back to doing what she loved,” he said.
Losing Jackie has left a gaping hole in Lester Lindhardt’s heart.
He admitted that despite calling it quits as husband and wife, they remained friends and that when her coworker called him Wednesday he heard two devastating words.
Since then he’s been remembering Jackie’s undying spirit and her talents. “This is so tough, man, it really is,” he added. “Jackie is a beautiful, beautiful person.”
Her ex-husband compiled an online tribute, adorned with an array of photos of Jackie smiling or showing off her magnificent edibles.
The inscription Lester Lindhardt wrote above the photo album expresses his aching state. He writes that Jackie Lindhardt was “one of the most beautiful souls in the world today that has ever lived” and added, “I just wish I could say ‘I love you’ one last time. Mi amor. Mi vida. Mi corazon. RIP.”