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North Carolina Car Wash Employee Dies After Getting ‘Tangled’ in Machinery

A 26-year-old woman is dead after becoming snared in the machinery of a drive-through car wash in western North Carolina, authorities said.

Carolina Bree Franks was found trapped in the Zips Car Wash by first responders summoned to the scene on a report of a traumatic injury around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to a news release from the Weaverville Police Department. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“She was working at the car wash, cleaning, and she got tangled up in a piece of equipment,” her grandmother, Ernestine Franks, told local station WLOS. “And when they found her she was already dead.”

Ernestine Franks, who’d helped to raise Bree, as she was known to family and friends, explained to the Asheville Citizen-Times that her granddaughter hadn’t been scheduled to work a shift at the car wash that day, but had agreed to fill in for another employee who’d canceled at the last minute.

“She did not have an enemy in this world,” Franks continued. “She had good friends and she would help you anyway that she could. She’s just a good person. She loved people.”

The exact nature or cause of Franks’ death was not immediately clear on Thursday. The North Carolina Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health was notified of the incident and is leading an investigation into the matter.

Zips, based in Plano, Texas, is the largest privately-owned car wash company in the United States. It has more than 230 locations across the country, according to its corporate website. A spokeswoman said in a statement to People that the company’s “thoughts and prayers” were with Franks’ loved ones, whom it would “continue to support during this difficult time.”

The spokeswoman added that the Weaverville car wash would remain closed “at this time” as the company supported local police and state investigators.

More than 1,000 customer complaints have been filed against Zips Car Wash with the Better Business Bureau over the past three years, according to Fox Carolina. The station reported on Tuesday that though most of these complaints regarded pricing, nearly 200 concerned issues with the car wash’s products and automatic services. The company is not accredited with the bureau.

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