News, Culture & Society

Woolworths worker from Queensland who took his own life compared job to ‘Freddy Krueger nightmare’

A young Woolworths worker who tragically took his own life slammed the supermarket giant in a series of notes discovered after his death.

Zachary Hendricks, 21, claimed his job dealing with online orders was a ‘nightmare even Freddy Krueger wouldn’t want’.

The young man died when his sedan smashed into a tree and burst into flames on the Bruce Highway in Midgee, 10km south of Rockhampton on Queensland’s mid-north coast, at about 4.45am on September 22.

It took emergency services 30 minutes to quell the flames and assess him for injuries, but he died in the blaze.

Police said the investigation is ongoing, with his distraught mother Dhanni telling Daily Mail Australia her son’s ‘awful’ job pushed him to the brink.

Pictured: Zachary Hendricks in his Woolworths uniform. He worked there for 18 months before he took his own life

Zachary Hendricks (pictured) spent six years in the RAAF Cadet Corps, which his mother said was his 'whole world'

Zachary Hendricks (pictured) spent six years in the RAAF Cadet Corps, which his mother said was his ‘whole world’

‘A week and a half before he died, he was thrust into management position without being trained,’ she said.

‘We knew about a year ago that the job was stressful, but we didn’t know how bad it was – the new position was a whole other level.’ 

A Woolworths spokesman told Daily Mail Australia the company is ‘devastated devastated by Zach’s tragic passing’ and will review the circumstances surrounding his employment up until his passing.

‘We’ve extended our deepest condolences to the family and been in close contact over recent weeks to offer our care and practical support,’ he said.

Zachary started working at Woolworths about 18 months ago on a casual basis, but he was soon put on a full time contract – working 38 hours per week.

‘It was 38 hours too much,’ Dhanni said.  

Distraught mum Dhanni said she didn't know how stressed Zachary (pictured) was before he took his own life in September

Distraught mum Dhanni said she didn’t know how stressed Zachary (pictured) was before he took his own life in September

His mother Dhanni found a series of letters Zachary (pictured) left before he died describing the pressure he was under

His mother Dhanni found a series of letters Zachary (pictured) left before he died describing the pressure he was under

She only became aware of how much his job was impacting his mental health after the car crash, when she found a series of notes. 

‘He wrote quite a few letters and they were all about the work,’ she said.

Zachary said his job was ‘a nightmare not even Freddy Krueger would want’,’ according to his mother.

The line referenced Nightmare On Elm Street – a 1980s horror film featuring serial killer Freddy Krueger, who killed his victims in their dreams.  

Dhanni said her son’s complaint about bullying and the workload to HR ‘went nowhere’.

The Woolworths spokesman said: ‘Woolworths is currently unaware of any workplace complaints being made by Zach.’   

Dhanni made a memorial page for Zachary (pictured), and says his death has been indescribable

Dhanni made a memorial page for Zachary (pictured), and says his death has been indescribable

When asked about impact Zachary’s death has had on her family, she said it was ‘indescribable’. 

In a Facebook group dedicated to her son, Dhanni said the supermarket chain was ‘worse than Covid’ and accused Woolworths of ‘corporate manslaughter’. 

‘They drove him to the edge and pushed him to take his own life after dismantling and crushing his mental health. I have the letters to prove it,’ she wrote. 

She also coined the hashtag #YWLM – Young Woolworths Lives Matter. 

Thousands of people flocked to the page to pay their respects, and to share their stories working for large corporations.

‘I worked for the Woolworths group and had a very similar experience that led to me making an attempt on my own life,’ one woman wrote.

‘I was unsuccessful and given a second chance to get out but unfortunately people like your son did not get that. I am so very sorry for your loss.’

Another wrote: ‘This is heartbreaking, I left the company earlier this year after 11 years of service when my mental health had severely spiralled after years of consistent bullying.’

Queensland Police have prepared a report for the coroner. 

For 24/7 confidential support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 

WOOLWORTHS’ FULL STATEMENT: 

We’re devastated by Zach’s tragic passing and our thoughts remain with his loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.

Zach was a much loved member of our team and will be sorely missed.

We’ve extended our deepest condolences to the family and been in close contact over recent weeks to offer our care and practical support.

We understand the accident is the subject of a police investigation, which we will of course assist in any way we can.

It would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this time. 

Woolworths is currently unaware of any workplace complaints being made by Zach during his six months of employment with the company, but will be reviewing the circumstances surrounding his employment up until his passing.

Woolworths provided financial support to the family in line with its bereavement policy to help with a memorial for Zach. A number of Woolworths team members attended to pay their respects.

At the family’s request, Woolworths also provided gift cards to the family for food and other essentials.

Woolworths arranged counsellors to visit the store at the time of Zach’s passing and continues to offer support to its team members.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk