LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A 24-year veteran GE Appliance Park employee has died after a workplace accident that happened on Friday afternoon.
According to Dino Driskell, the local GE Appliances Union President, the long-time employee was pinned by a metal fixture that holds foam installation on an assembly line that builds refrigerators. He was taken to University Hospital, where he was being treated over the weekend and succumbed to his injuries Sunday morning.
"Manufacturing is a dangerous business. We just need to keep an eye out for each other," Driskell said. "We're keeping his family in our prayers."
Ashley Herring, 28, tells WDRB her father, Steve Herring, was the victim.
She said her dad would text her each and every morning to wish her well.
"I really can't call my dad anymore," Herring said. "Like, I can't talk to him anymore. That's never going to happen. And it's weird, it's really weird.
Herring said her father was a "jokester," a loyal fraternity member, a dedicated Freemason, a passionate University of Louisville fan, and a constantly smiling face at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville.
Steve Herring was a greeter at the church, says Kevin Willis. Willis says he and Herring were friends for 40 years.
"Man, I'm going to miss him. Just fighting back tears even talking to you. It's a really tough day. It's a really tough day,” Willis said. "It's heartbreaking not to say the least. It's just rather shocking, because he had worked there so many years."
A GE Appliances company spokesperson says the cause of the accident is unknown and an investigation is underway into what caused Friday's accident. In a statement, the company said:
The GE Appliances team is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our employees. He was injured on Friday, Feb. 15, at approximately 12:30 p.m. while working on the refrigeration door line at Appliance Park. The employee was immediately taken to a local hospital where he underwent treatment.
The safety and wellbeing of our employees is our top priority. We immediately launched a thorough investigation, which is ongoing, to understand the cause of this tragic accident.
On Sunday, Feb. 17, our employee passed away. He was a valued team member with 24 years of service who was extremely well-liked and respected by his colleagues. We are grieving his loss and are working with his family to provide assistance during this difficult time.
As some have rumored, firefighters weren't delayed in transporting Herring, according to Beuchel Fire Department spokesman Jordan Youdis.
"They had him out and packaged when we got there, and that ambulance right there took him to University,” he said.
On Monday morning, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued a brief statement:
"Because this is an on-going investigation, the only comments that we can make is that we can confirm there was a work-related accident. We are deeply saddened to confirm this accident did result in death.
Because of varying details among each investigation, we cannot give a specific timeline on when our investigation will be completed."
OSHA's online records indicate that, since 2010, there have been 25 serious OSHA violations. Six of those violations have occurred since Haier, a Chinese conglomerate, took over in 2016.
OSHA defines "a serious violation" as a violation that "occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."
The online data only goes back to 2010.
Also on Monday morning, Driskell sent the following letter to his union members:
Brothers and Sisters,
I write this leaflet with a heavy heart, as we lost a father, brother, uncle and friend when our fellow Union member, Steve Herring, passed away yesterday. I ask that everyone keep his family in your prayers. Shock has surely set in on all of us, but the continued prayers and support for his family in the days and months ahead will be vital.
There will be counselors available in each building for anyone that would like to talk with someone about this tragic accident and loss of our friend and fellow Brother. Steve's smile and kindness reaches much further than Building 5 alone and there are many friends and family members across the park that are going to need support at this time.
Our fellow Brothers and Sisters have organized a prayer service that will take place this evening at 8 pm at the center turnstile in front of AP5. We will also be reaching out to our membership for a collection for Steve's family.
I would ask for the rumor mill to cease, as it is just that until we get more answers on what led to this devastating loss. At a time like this, we need to concentrate on being there for each other, for keeping his family in our prayers, and for having a heightened awareness of our own safety and the safety of our Brothers and Sisters.
Dennis Peach, the Park Union Safety Representative, and I will be working closely with the OSHA investigator until the very end of the investigation. We will leave no stone unturned, until we find out exactly what led to this incident.
Steve always had a smile on his face and a nickname for everyone he came to know. When he would see me in the aisle, he would yell out "Dino Brown!" with a grin from ear to ear. May he rest in peace and may God's Love and Grace shine down on his family.
Dino "Brown" Driskell
IUE-CWA Local 83761 President
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