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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, June 20, 2019 1:00 am

Accident at Bluffton plant kills Ohio man

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

An Ohio man died Wednesday at Valero Renewable Fuels in Bluffton while performing maintenance work on a large auger, authorities said.

The industrial accident occurred at 10:05 a.m. at the ethanol plant at 1441 S. Adams St, according to the Bluffton Police Department.

The Wells County coroner identified the victim as Ryan West, 42, of Bainbridge, Ohio. West was an outside contractor working for Diversified Industrial Services, Bluffton Police Chief Kyle Randall said. 

Randall said his department initially asked Indiana State Police to investigate the accident, but after no foul play was suspected, law enforcement agencies decided state police would not be needed. The determination not to use state police was made after speaking to witnesses and other employees, Randall said. 

An initial news release from police Wednesday said West was trapped in a piece of equipment. 

“We are saddened by the loss of an employee with Diversified Industrial Services who was working at Valero's Bluffton, Indiana, plant this morning. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, co-workers and friends,” a statement from the company said. “The health and safety of all workers in our facilities is our priority. As for details about the incident, a complete investigation will be conducted. Also, we are cooperating with local and state agencies on investigations they have underway already.”  

This is the third fatal industrial accident in the area in the last 18 months. In January, Kenyon Disbrow, 57, of Ossian died from a head injury at Premier Avionics at the Fort Wayne Aero Center.  

In March, Kevin M. Sieber, 55, was crushed to death at the Columbia City Steel Dynamics Inc., plant. He was a lab technician. 

In January 2018, Shacarra Hogue, 23, died at Fort Wayne Plastics after getting stuck in a press on her third day of work. The company was fined $6,300. 

jduffy@jg.net