Car Wash Employee Dies After Becoming Entrapped in Equipment: ‘When They Found Her, She Was Already Dead’

"She was a bright light in the lives of many," according to the victim's obituary

<p>Facebook</p> Carolina Brea Franks.


Carolina Brea Franks.
  • Carolina Franks, 26, died after she "apparently became entrapped in equipment" at a car wash where she worked, police told PEOPLE in a statement

  • The North Carolina Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Division told PEOPLE that their agency has opened an investigation into the Zips Car Wash in Weaverville

  • Franks' grandmother Ernestine said that Carolina wasn't scheduled to work a shift at the facility but filled in when another employee canceled, according to a report

A North Carolina car wash employee died Saturday after she became trapped in machinery, according to police.

Authorities responded to Zips Car Wash at 1 Gill Road in Weaverville just after 6:30 p.m. local time for a report of a traumatic brain injury involving a car wash worker, the Weaverville Police Department said in a release obtained by PEOPLE.

"Upon arrival, first responders located the victim, later identified as 26-year-old Carolina Franks of Buncombe County, where she had apparently become entrapped in equipment located within the car wash," the department added. "The victim was pronounced dead at the scene."

Sarah Elizabeth, a spokeswoman for ZIPS Corporate, said in a statement to PEOPLE that the company's "thoughts and prayers continue to be with her family and friends, and we'll continue to support them during this difficult time."

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"This is such an unfortunate tragedy," Elizabeth continued. "We are working with local authorities and the North Carolina Department of Labor OSHA throughout the investigation, and our Weaverville site will remain closed at this time."

The North Carolina Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Division, which is leading the investigation, confirmed with PEOPLE that a probe into the facility has been opened, but there is no further information at this time.

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Franks' grandmother Ernestine told the Ashville Citizen-Times that Carolina wasn't scheduled to work a shift at the car wash but filled in when another employee canceled.

What exactly caused her death isn't immediately clear. Speaking with WLOS, Ernestine recalled a conversation she had with Carolina's boyfriend's father, who was told by authorities that the victim was "working at the car wash, cleaning, and she got tangled up in a piece of equipment."

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"When they found her, she was already dead," recounted the grandmother, who had raised the victim since she was 6 years old.

In Carolina's obituary, the 26-year-old was described as "a very cheerful and happy person." Everyone enjoyed being around her," read the tribute, which noted her funeral is scheduled for Friday. "She was a bright light in the lives of many."

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