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Steelworker fatally injured at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor

A train carrying molten iron passes in front of Blast Furnace No. 7 at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago. A steelworker was killed in a train accident at the steel mill.

EAST CHICAGO — A steelworker was killed in a fatal train accident at the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel mill Tuesday morning, the first deadly accident there in 15 months.

"We are saddened to confirm there was a fatality at the Indiana Harbor’s No. 7 blast furnace raw materials yard today," ArcelorMittal spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford said. "A railroad operator was fatally injured when the engine he was operating struck a railcar on an adjacent track."

The steelworker died at the scene.

The Lake County Coroner's Office identified the deceased as Edwin L. Fleming, a 49-year-old Schererville man.

Coroner Merrilee Frey said in a news release her office was dispatched to the scene at 3210 Watling St. at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday, and Fleming was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. The cause and manner of death are pending.

No one else was injured in the accident at the sprawling mill in Indiana Harbor on Lake Michigan.

Fleming had worked for the steelmaker for nearly 17 years and in that area of the steel mill since the summer of 2007, Holdford said.

ArcelorMittal, the United Steelworkers unions and "outside agencies" are conducting an investigation into the incident. 

The company said it will try to take steps to prevent such deadly accidents from recurring in the future.

"ArcelorMittal strives to ensure every employee and contractor returns home from work safely," Holdford said. "We are deeply troubled by today’s incident and will make every effort to understand the cause and prevent reoccurrence. The ArcelorMittal family extends our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of our colleague."

The workplace death is the first at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel mill since December 2017.

In March 2017, Willie Batteast was the first USW Local 1010 member to die on the job in seven years, the longest period without a fatality in the union local's history, after succumbing to injuries he suffered in a crane accident at the mill. In December of that year, Alfredo Cadena died in a buggy accident at the No. 3 Continuous Annealing Line.

The death Tuesday was the 392nd fatal workplace accident to take place at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East, formerly the Inland Steel mill, since it first opened back in 1902.

The East Chicago Police and Fire Departments also responded to the incident.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.