Death of Niles factory worker under investigation; first responders under observation

Local News

The man is being tested to see if he had COVID-19, but those results may not come back for several days

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – An Arconic employee’s death is under investigation and five first responders who came in contact with him are in self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.

Just after 8:30 Wednesday morning, the first responders went to the Arconic plant on a report of an unconscious man in a facility locker room.

911 caller: “We got a gentleman down in the locker room.”
Dispatcher: “OK, do we know what’s wrong?”
911 caller: “Nope.”

“When we got there, there was a nurse performing CPR on the gentleman. We worked with her, doing CPR on the gentleman,” said Weathersfield Fire Chief Tom Lambert.

Lambert was working his main job for Lane LifeTrans EMS at the time, responding to this call. He said it was after they had performed those life-saving measures that they learned more about the man’s recent medical history.

“We found out that he’s been sick for three days, missing work with the flu and that morning, he had trouble breathing.”

Lambert said, unfortunately, at the time, the call came through the 911 center as an unconscious male.

“So we treated it like a medical call and not like flu-like symptoms. If we get the call and someone has a fever or flu-like symptoms, then we go into deeper precautions with masks and stuff like that. But we just went in with our normal gloves and did what we had to do.”

That’s when the decision was made for the five Lane LifeTrans employees, including Lambert and a fire captain, to self-quarantine.

Arconic released the following statement:

The Trumbull County Coroner is currently investigating the cause of death. Until the coroner completes its investigation, Arconic Niles Operations, out of an abundance of caution, has directed employees who came into contact with the deceased to self-quarantine in keeping with our specific protocols for employees at this time.”

A company representative said the man’s death was not workplace-related.

An outside cleaning company disinfected the building where the incident happened.

We’ve gotten numerous calls and emails from employees, telling us they’re extremely concerned. One man agreed to do a phone interview.

“They’re not being very reassuring, you know what I mean? Are we going to fix this issue or are we going to just, more or less…” he said.

Lambert doesn’t think the man had been tested for coronavirus before Wednesday.

At this point, he and others are quarantined until a coronavirus test on the man is completed. Due to the backlog, that could take days.

“Just staying positive that he’s going to come back with a negative test, and just had a bad case of the flu and some type of horrible medical thing that led up to that,” Lambert said.

A representative of Arconic also said workers’ thoughts are with the employee’s family, and the company is working to support the employee’s family and colleagues with appropriate services.

Arconic specializes in lightweight metals engineering and manufacturing for use in the aerospace, automobile and other industries.

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