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Thursday, July 10, 2:20 p.m.

Worker killed at AK Steel

By Thomas Gnau
Journal Business Writer

A worker was killed at AK Steel's Middletown Works Thursday morning, said Rob Shearer, director of an organization that provides safety training for AK contractors, SHIELD (Safety and Health for Industrial and Labor Development).

The worker was Ralph E. Jones, 41, of Waynesville, said Butler County Coroner's office investigator Patricia Randolph. An autopsy will be performed Saturday, she said. She was unable to give a precise cause of death.

Middletown Fire Chief John Sauter confirmed the worker's identify. AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy confirmed the death. He said he would have further information later Thursday.

A coroner's office investigator went to Middletown Regional Hospital, where the worker was transported, to investigate the death, said a secretary for Coroner Dr. Richard Burkhardt. She could not offer further details.

Shearer said it was his understanding that a worker was pinned under a crane block near the plant's annealing line. The crane block weighs about 2,000 pounds, he said. The area OSHA Director, Richard Gilgrist, said a crane block fell on the victim while he was operating a forklift.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials were at the plant by around noon Thursday.

"I didn't even want to believe it," Shearer said. "I didn't want to believe it. But then another call came that confirmed it. Just absolute shock and mourning. Just the last thing you want to hear."

Neither Ed Shelley, president of Armco Employees Independent Federation, nor Rick Combs, safety chairman for the AEIF, could be immediately reached for comment.

The union represents more than 3,000 workers at the plant.

The Journal will have more on this story as it develops.



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