Italian Cheesemaker Dead After Being Crushed By 15,000 Wheels Of Cheese

The recent tragic death of a cheese factory owner has shaken the food world. 74-year-old Giacomo Chiapparini first started his northern Italy cheese business back in the '70s, and it's clear that he dedicated the rest of his life to everyone's favorite dairy product. Unfortunately, his dedication to cheese is exactly the thing that brought about his death this past weekend. 

On Sunday, August 6th, Chiapparini was crushed to death by 15,000 wheels of cheese. The accident that caused Chiapparini's death was an unexpected and unlikely one. The cheese that caused the fatal blow was Grana Padano, a hard type of cheese that's popular in Italy and similar to parmesan cheese. Each wheel of Grana Padano at Chiapparini's Romano di Lombardia factory weighs around 44 pounds. As Chiapparini was working in the factory, a shelf full of cheese wheels that was nearly 30 feet high collapsed, causing the tragic loss. 

A machine alarm put the victim in the unlucky place

The accident happened when Giacomo Chiapparini and his 50-year-old son, Tiziano, went to repair the machine that cleans the cheese wheels. "These machines clean and rotate the wheels, so when they find them even slightly out of place, they send a warning," Chiapparini's friend, Bortolo Ghislotti, said, explaining the lead-up to the tragic occurrence in an interview with NBC News. "It's a common problem. So, Giacomo and his son went there to adjust the wheels." Tiziano joined his father to adjust the cheese before leaving the warehouse. The accident happened as his father attempted to reset the machine. "Tiziano told me he heard a massive noise; He turned around and saw his father buried under thousands of cheese wheels. He knows that if he got out seconds later, he would be dead, too," says Ghislotti.

When the fire department arrived, they found piles of heavy cheese wheels, which they had to move one by one. They didn't discover Chiapparini's body until hours later. While an accident like this is unlikely, Ghislotti recalls hearing about it happening before but without causing any fatalities. Chiapparini is survived by his wife, Angela, and his children and grandchildren.