Harlingen Applebee's closed following death of employee

A popular Harlingen restaurant has temporarily closed its doors after an employee was rushed to the hospital and died.

It all happened at the Applebee's at 1519 West Tyler Avenue just after 7 p.m. Saturday.

Officials confirm that 22-year-old Christopher Jared Kruger is dead following the Saturday evening accident.

Witnesses told Action 4 News that Kruger was eating in the rear of restaurant, starting choking and was then rushed away in ambulance.

A spokesperson for Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen confirmed that Kruger died.

A cause of death is not immediately clear but an autopsy for Kruger's death is expected to be ordered.

Restaurant managers declined to comment but Action 4 News spoke to Frank Romero with Concord Hospitality, a franchise company that owns the Harlingen Applebee's and five others in the Rio Grande Valley.

Romero reported that employees are in mourning for Kruger's death and decided to close the restaurant for the rest of the day on Saturday out of respect for Kruger and his family.

Kruger had been working for the restaurant for the past five months.

The Harlingen restaurant is expected to reopen for normal business hours on Sunday.

Romero said the company will provide grief counselors for employees.