Worker split in half during Illinois molten iron foundry disaster
Screengrab/Caterpillar Inc

An Illinois foundry worker died instantly when he tripped into a 2,600-degrees Fahrenheit molten iron crucible.

Steven Dierkes, 39, was in the first week of his new job at Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry when the tragic accident happened. Local authorities were called to the scene at 10am on Thursday (2 June).

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood ruled out foul play, adding that the matter is under investigation by the sheriff’s office and occupational safety and health administration, reported Peoria Journal Star.

An anonymous worker under the pseudonym 'Ron' told the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) that Dierkes "was taking a sample of iron for the met lab and apparently just tripped. He died instantly, but not all of him went in. Part of his body remained on the deck for the coroner to retrieve.”

“The death occurred on one of the large melters in the main foundry melting area,” Ron said. “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.

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Steven Dierkes died following the incident at Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry last weekObituary/pjstar

Another worker at the factory allegedly said in a social media post that he did not have “sufficient training” to be on the iron floor.

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.”

According to his obituary, 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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