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Chicago Heights family mourns loss of father in industrial accident

Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are currently searching for clues following a fatal accident at a metals plant in a southern suburb earlier this month, the second fatality at that particular location in just 25 months.

Reports indicate that local police and paramedics were called to the Vesuvius USA plant in Chicago Heights on the morning of April 4 for a possible industrial accident. Shortly after their arrival, emergency responders attempted to revive 60-year-old Romelio C., a machine operator at the plant, and ultimately pronounced him dead at the scene.

While the cause of the fatal accident remains unknown, workers did indicate that Romelio C.'s body was found inside of a hopper, which is essentially a funnel-shaped bin that holds and dispenses loose material. Both the Chicago Heights Police Department and OSHA are currently conducting in-depth investigations to determine what exactly went wrong.

According to Romelio C.'s family, he had worked at the plant for eight years and routinely put in 50-hour work weeks in order to help support his five children and six grandchildren, all of whom he loved deeply.

"I know he was tired and trying to work extra hours," said his son. "He did it anyway and he didn't complain."

While the results of the OSHA investigation -- which will be completed in roughly six months -- will ultimately shed some light of the reasons behind Romelio C.'s death, his family members have already indicated this will have little impact on their profound sense of loss.

"We will never be satisfied with their explanation," said the son. "He's gone. That's it."

It should be noted that Vesuvius USA was recently fined $7,000 (later reduced to $5,000) by OSHA for violations associated with the death of a worker in March 2011. Here, the worker went onto the roof to help clear a clogged bin and fell 30 feet to the ground below. He was not outfitted with the proper fall arrest system and eventually died at the hospital.

Consider speaking with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to learn more about your options if you have suffered serious injuries in an industrial workers' accident.

Source: The Southtown Star, "Man dies in hopper accident at Chicago Heights plant," Casey Toner, April 4, 2013

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