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Three Dead After Falling Into Molten Steel Pit

December 14, 1989

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ Three workers plunged from a platform into a pit full of molten steel and died and five other employees were injured in the accident at the Johnstown Corp. steel plant.

Four thousand pounds of molten steel poured into an open pit after the lid blew off a caster at the foundry Wednesday at 5 p.m. The five injured employees were standing around the pit, Cambria County Coroner John Barron said.

When the accident occurred, the company was testing the new centrifugal caster at its No. 1 foundry, authorities said. They described the caster as a turntable that has a cast placed on it.

″There was a large amount of pressure in the caster that blew the top plates that the men were standing on, up and down into the pit,″ Barron said.

After the blast, workers sprayed the pit with fire extinquishers to cool down the steel.

″The pit was glowing and a black dust was rising from it,″ said Bruce Horn, vice-president of operations, who was at the scene at the time. ″Everybody was trying to run back from the pit and a lot of the people were injured when they fell trying to get away.″

Company officials suspended operations at the No. 1 foundry today for investigations by Barron, the state police fire marshal, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Johnstown Corp.

The men killed in the acciden were identified through dental records as John D. Taylor, 39, of Johnstown, Joseph Olszewski Jr., 43, of Portage, and James M. Dorofey, 35, of Conemaugh.

Ian Sandler, 48, the company’s vice president of research and development, was among the five men hospitalized. He was in serious condition undergoing treatment for smoke inhalation, a broken leg and a broken ankle.

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