Dwayne E. Warmoth – 36, of New Ross was crushed by a wheel of a heavy crane used to carry steel.
State investigators were at the Qualitech Steel Corp. mill Monday, trying to find out how a worker was killed after only one week on the job.
The company released few details except to say in a prepared statement, “We are investigating the accident and working with officials to determine the cause of this unfortunate accident and to prevent future such occurrences.
“Our deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of our fallen associate.”
Services for Warmoth are scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Porter Funeral Home at Jamestown.
Warmoth died shortly before midnight Friday during surgery at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
He had suffered severe internal injuries and damage to his left leg and pelvis, according to a report from the Marion County coroner’s office.
Warmoth was hurt about 4:40 p.m. while walking in an outdoor steel storage area at the mill, which is at the I-74 interchange on the northside of Pittsboro.
Details of the incident were not immediately available from any police agencies because none of them was at the scene.
Pittsboro Town Marshal Christi Patterson said Monday that a follow-up investigation has begun. No police were sent at the time of the incident, because it was not initially reported or dispatched as a possible fatality.
The Pittsboro Fire Department, which sent a rescue team to the mill to help Warmoth until a medical helicopter arrived, indicated Warmoth had been walking in an outdoor yard behind the mill when he was hit by the huge wheels of a mobile crane. The wheels are 4- to 6-feet tall.
Jerry Johnson of the Fire Department said there also were reports that another employee was walking nearby and moved out of the way in time to avoid being hit.
The coroner’s office also indicated Warmoth and another worker were moving steel from one area of the mill to the back of a semi truck when he was stuck.
The name of the crane operator wasn’t immediately available. The crane is used to carry bars of hot steel to cool.
Investigators from the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration office were in the mill Monday interviewing witnesses.
Pete Rimsans, deputy commissioner of the state agency, said a report of any potential violations can be expected within a month.
“When a fatality is reported, we will go in and try to find what happened and see if there were any violations of health and safety regulations,” he said.
He said an OSHA report or safety order may be complete in a month.
“Steel mills tend to be more hazardous than most (work environments). With equipment that big, one little mistake can do a lot of damage,” he said.
Qualitech operations have come under OSHA inspections at least twice before.
The company was assessed an $85,500 fine after a flash fire in 1999 at a Qualitech iron ore processing operation in Texas.
And the company was named in 13 citations after an early 1999 overheating in the main metal-melting ladle in the Pittsboro plant.
In March this year, a fire damaged hydraulic fluid lines and caused evacuation of the mill.