Multiple agencies are working to piece together the circumstances that led to the workplace death of a Newton County man some 12 hours after he was involved in a fight at a Merrillville union hall.
Jacob Oxley, 28, of Lake Village, was pronounced dead at 9:41 a.m. Friday at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.
The cause and manner of death are pending additional examinations by the Lake County coroner's office.
Merrillville police on Monday said Oxley was involved in a physical fight at 10:30 p.m. Thursday at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 Hall at 2193 W. 84th Place in Merrillville.
He was a member of the union.
Sources said Oxley talked to his father after the fight and went to work the following morning at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago, where he was working for a contractor.
Oxley spoke to his girlfriend on the phone about 8 a.m., and 50 minutes later, he was found slumped over the steering wheel of the pay loader he was operating.
Oxley was transported to St. Catherine Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:41 a.m., the source said.
Lt. Marguerite Wilder, of the East Chicago Police Department, said she was not informed of the death and her department is not involved in a death investigation.
Wilder said questions surrounding the connection to the Merrillville fight and Oxley's death likely prompted authorities to bypass her department after Oxley died at the hospital.
A preliminary investigation revealed Oxley suffered head trauma, but it remained unclear Monday whether it caused by the fight or was a contributing factor in his death.
Merrillville police said a suspect in the fight was found and held for questioning.
That person since has been released, said Robert Wiley, Merrillville's chief of detectives. Police have 48 hours from the time of an arrest to file charges before a suspect must be released, Wiley said.
Merrillville police continue investigating the case and plan to interview witnesses, Wiley said.
Sources said a request for charges by Merrillville police hinge on the final determination of cause and manner of death from the coroner's office and approval by the Lake County prosecutor's office.