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Mill accident kills Ontonagon man

July 18, 2012
By KELLY FOSNESS - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

TOMAHAWK, Wis. - A 47-year-old Ontonagon man is dead and another is listed in serious condition after a Tuesday morning industrial accident at a plant in Wisconsin.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, the incident occurred just before 8:30 a.m. at Packaging Corporation of America near Tomahawk where 47-year-old Dennis Gougeon and 29-year-old Dustin Hale, both of Ontonagon, were reported to be burned from fly ash, a product produced by the combustion of coal.

The company manufactures container board and corrugated packaging.

Gougeon and Hale, both contractors who were employed by Ontonagon-based Inland Systems Inc., were transported from the scene by Tomahawk EMS to Ministry Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk. From there they were airlifted to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Gougeon died from his injuries at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

A spokesperson from UW Health listed Hale in serious condition this morning.

PCA Human Resources Director Ron Zimmerman, in a phone interview this morning, said the incident is still under evaluation.

"Our prayers and sympathy are with Dennis's family," he said. "Our prayers are with Dustin and his family as he struggles ... hopefully he's able to make a recovery and come out of it."

Rhonda Burke, a spokesperson from Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the agency will be sending an investigator to the Tomahawk plant.

"They'll open an investigation into the incidents that occurred," she said. "During that investigation what they're looking for is to find if there were any health or safety violations that contributed to the cause of the incident."

Zimmerman said OSHA will be meeting with Inland Systems.

"We'll cooperate any way we can in this investigation," he said.

Burke said OSHA has up to six months to complete the investigation.

"If they do find violations then the company will be issued some citations for the violations," she said.

Burke said Tuesday morning's incident wasn't the first of its kind at PCA in Tomahawk.

"In 2008 three workers were killed at that facility," she said. "They were cited for six safety violations."

The incident remains under investigation.



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