Worker melted in half after falling into vat of molten iron

‘He died instantly,’ says colleague

<p>A video by Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry shows iron being melted at 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit </p>

A video by Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry shows iron being melted at 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit

An Illinois man died instantly after tripping and partially falling into a vat of molten iron.

Steven Dierkes, 39, from Peoria, who was working alongside a crucible at iron-melting factory Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry died due to an “occupational accident” last Thursday, Peoria County Sheriff’s Office Captain Chris Watkins said.

Peoria County deputies were called to the facility around 10am last week when a man fell into a vat of molten iron at 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit and died on the spot.

No foul play is suspected in the incident, coronerJamie Harwood said, adding that the matter is under investigation by the sheriff’s office and occupational safety and health administration, reported Peoria Journal Star.

A spokesperson for the foundry Lisa Miller, said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of an employee who was involved in a serious incident at our Mapleton, Illinois, facility on June 2.”

“Our thoughts are with this employee’s family, friends and colleagues. The safety of our employees, contractors and visitors is our top priority.”

“He was taking a sample of iron for the met lab and apparently just tripped,” a worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).

“He died instantly, but not all of him went in. Part of his body remained on the deck for the coroner to retrieve.”

Steven Dierkes, 39, is survived by his partner Jessica Sutter and their three daughters

He said it must have “been ghastly for those folks that witnessed it and to wait for the coroner with half of their coworker lying on the floor”.

A worker at the factory said in a social media post, according to the website, that he had been employed for 5 days and did not have “sufficient training” to be on the iron floor.

Another worker, who identified himself as Ron, said the death occurred on one of the large melters in the main foundry melting area.

“I haven’t seen the melting area in years, let alone the melt deck itself, so I cannot report what conditions are like. Our melting area is physically connected but operationally independent. Word spread fast and people were gathering trying to find out what happened.”

The horrific death of the employee has raised questions over safety and health violations at the factory among workers and locals.

The tragic incident follows the death of 50-year-old Scott Adams, an electrical contractor, who also died after falling in the foundry in 2021. More than six months after his death, the investigation is still underway. He allegedly fell 20 feet while climbing a ladder.

According to his obituary, Dierkes is survived by his partner Jessica Sutter and their three daughters. He is remembered as “a hard-working teddy bear of a man with calloused hands and a tender heart.”

It added that he “would have done anything for anyone with no expectation of anything in return”.

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