The 39-year-old worker dies after falling into a vat of 2,600F molten iron, leaving half his body on the ground

A 39-year-old worker died after falling into a molten iron tub from 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit – leaving half his body on the ground.

According to Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood, Steven Dierkes of Peoria, Illinois, died immediately after being believed to be working next to a crucible when he fell into it.

Steven Dierkes of Peoria, Illinois died on June 2nd


Steven Dierkes of Peoria, Illinois died on June 2ndCredit: Facebook
The death of Steven Dierkes is still under investigation


The death of Steven Dierkes is still under investigationCredit: Facebook

Harwood said Thursday’s incident — which occurred at the Caterpillar Mapleton Foundry — was accidental and no foul play was suspected, reports the Peoria Journal Star.

The deputies were called to the facility around 10 a.m. Thursday morning for an “occupational accident,” Peoria County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Chris Watkins said.

Caterpillar spokeswoman Lisa Miller released the following statement to The Sun: “We are deeply saddened by the death of an employee on April 2.

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of this employee.

“The safety of our employees, contractors and visitors is our top priority.”

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Dierkes’ death remains under investigation by the Peoria County Coroner’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A veteran Caterpillar worker who wished to remain anonymous told the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) that Dierkes “took an iron sample for the Met lab and apparently just tripped.”

The unidentified worker explained: “He died immediately but not all of him went in. Part of his body was left on the deck for the coroner to retrieve.

“It must have been horrific for the people who witnessed it to wait for the coroner with half of their colleague on the floor.”

The worker, who called Ron to preserve his identity, claimed “the death occurred in one of the large furnaces in the foundry’s main smelting area.”

Ron was unable to report on the condition of the foundry’s smelting area.

“I don’t know when it happened, but at 10:20 a.m., the entire facility was sent home,” the worker said.

Another employee claimed on social media that Dierkes had “only been there five days” and didn’t have “adequate training” to stand on the iron floor, according to the WSWS.

An obituary for Dierkes on PJ Star notes that the worker died at 9:23 a.m. from an “accident at work.”

A service honoring his life will be held on June 9, 2022 at 12 noon in Bloomington, Illinois.

He is survived by his partner Jessica Sutter and their three daughters.

Dierkes will be remembered as “a hard-working teddy bear of a man with calloused hands and a tender heart” who “would have done anything for anyone, without expecting anything in return.”

The father-of-three’s death comes six months after another fatal fall at the Mapleton foundry.

In December 2021, 50-year-old Scott M. Adams also fell fatally at the factory. Adams is believed to have climbed down a ladder before falling through a hole in the ground.

Following the Adams incident, Caterpillar released a statement to NBC Chicago saying an investigation was ongoing and the company was “deeply saddened.”

The company said: “Our thoughts are with the worker’s family, friends and colleagues.”

The Mapleton Foundry is described as “one of the largest in the United States” on the Caterpillar website.

Caterpillar explains, “It can melt up to 1,000 tons of iron each day to produce finished castings ranging from 15-pound liners to 22,000-pound cylinder blocks.”

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“These components form the basis of the company’s engine platforms ranging from 115 to 6,600 hp (86 to 4,920 kW),” the company adds.

“The facility ships an average of 150,000 tons of finished products each year.”

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