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UPDATE: Worker who fell to death at U.S. Steel Gary Works identified

UPDATE: Worker who fell to death at U.S. Steel Gary Works identified

GARY — A contractor died after a fall April 8 at U.S. Steel Gary Works, a company spokeswoman said.

The contractor was conducting routine cleaning and was injured as a result of a fall, spokeswoman Meghan Cox said.

The Lake County coroner's office identified the contractor as Frank Freer, a 46-year-old resident of Pontiac, Illinois.

Freer was a widower and father of three who was engaged to be married, according to his obituary. The graduate of Olean High School in New York had worked as a hydroblaster for KM Plant Services for 10 years.

KM Plant Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the fall, Freer was taken by a U.S. Steel ambulance to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus a few miles away in downtown Gary. He was pronounced dead there at 2:02 p.m. April 8.

The cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy, according to the coroner's office.

No one else was hurt in the industrial accident, Cox said.

"We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of the individual," she said. 

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified about the fatal accident, and U.S. Steel is working with the agency to complete an investigation, she said.

On Friday, a steelworker at Gary Works died of complications from the coronavirus. In September, manager Adam Janssen, a 37-year-old husband and father of two from south suburban Cook County, died after being found unresponsive in his office at the Gary Works steel mill at 1 N. Broadway on the Lake Michigan shore.

Last February, a contractor was badly burned at U.S. Steel's Gary Works steel mill and flown to the University of Chicago Medical Center burn unit in Hyde Park.

Steelworker is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country with an average of 29.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. 

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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.

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