West Carrollton man identified as worker killed at Middletown steel mill

Death was accidental, coroner says.

A 46-year-old West Carrollton man has been identified as the maintenance worker who was killed Tuesday morning at Cleveland-Cliffs in Middletown.

Wessley T. Blanton died from head trauma and his death was ruled accidental, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. The office released his name and cause of death Thursday morning.

Middletown police officers were dispatched at 9:48 a.m. Tuesday to Middletown Works, 1801 Crawford St., according to records.

Blanton was performing planned maintenance when he was killed, said Patricia Persico, a spokeswoman with Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.

It was the first fatality at the Middletown plant since 2013, according to Shawn Coffey, president of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1943. He called the fatality “an unfortunate accident.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Blanton’s death and it has up to six months to complete its report, said Scott Allen, regional director of public affairs.

In the last five years, OSHA investigators have been at the plant five times, according to records obtained by this news agency.

OSHA found no violations following two of those investigations, and one investigation that opened July 19, is incomplete.

AK Steel, now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs, was fined more than $70,000 for two violations in 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA records.

The two fines are tied to violations in 2017 and 2019, according to OSHA records.

On the morning of Dec. 22, 2017, an employee was adjusting a bearing plate which caused the hot roller to shift and come into contact with water, according to the OHSA report reviewed by the media outlet.

The employee received third-degree burns on his abdomen and arms when steam shot through a roller coolant hole and struck the employee.

The company was cited for five penalties and fined $60,374.

Less than two years later, on Aug. 20, 2019, an employee was performing maintenance on a de-gasser vessel, according to the OHSA report. The work platform raised, and the employee’s foot was caught in a pinch point. The employee suffered loss of some bone on his toe and severe avulsion and was treated without hospitalization. AK Steel was fined $9,661.

Blanton’s funeral services will be held Sunday at Schlientz and Moore Funeral Home, 1623 Wayne Ave., Dayton. The funeral will start at 2 p.m., followed by the visitation from 3 to 6 p.m.

Graveside services will be held at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Dayton National Cemetery, 4400 W. Third St., Dayton.

A GoFundMe account has been created to support Blanton’s wife and family.

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