Robot crushes and kills Ventra Ionia technician

Occurred: July 2015

Wanda Holbrook, a 57 year-old maintenance technician performing routine duties on an assembly line at auto-parts maker Ventra Ionia Main, Michigan, USA, was 'trapped by robotic machinery' and crushed to death. 

Two years later her husband, William Holbrook, filed lawsuit (pdf) alleging wrongful death, naming five companies involved in engineering and integrating the machines and parts used at the plant: Prodomax, Flex-N-Gate, FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric. 

Holbrook had been in the plant’s six-cell '100 section' when a robot unexpectedly activated, loaded a trailer-hitch assembly part and jammed it onto Holbrook’s head, crushing her skull.

The incident raised questions about the safety of the robotics system as a whole, and its liability. Prodomax Automation Ltd., which built the assembly lines, settled with Holbrook's family in 2021.

Operator: Flex-N-Gate/Ventra Ionia
Developer: Nachi Robotic Systems; Lincoln Electric Company; FANUC America Corp

Country: USA

Sector: Manufacturing/engineering

Purpose: Weld truck bumpers

Technology: Robotics
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Safety


Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: August 2023