DAYTON — The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has determined what killed a man who fell into a chemical vat at Techmetals on Springfield Street in Dayton Tuesday morning.
Dana Swisher, 60, of Union, drowned, according to Coroner Kent Harshbarger.
His death has been ruled an accident.
Swisher was a senior employee and worked for the company for several years, said Dayton Fire Department District Chief Mike Fasnacht.
“We don’t know what the cause of the event was,” he said. “I don’t know that this was an industrial accident or medical emergency.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office and Dayton police are leading the investigative side of the incident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.
Crews initially were called to the business just before 9 a.m. for an industrial accident, but it was later upgraded to a hazmat incident.
A 911 caller reported that a man had fallen into a 4-foot-deep tank, according to dispatch records.
Workers were able to pull the man out of the vat and were attempting life-saving measures when rescue crews arrived.
A supervisor for Techmetals told officers that Swisher was last seen in the building around 7:15 a.m., according to a police incident report.
Employees started looking for him, but were unable to find Swisher.
They also paged him using the PA system, but he did not respond.
A worker found Swisher with his face under water in a rinse tank, according to the report.
The tank contained primarily water, but had low levels of chrome byproduct because it was used to rinse off products manufactured at the business.
Video surveillance at Techmetals showed Swisher standing alone near the tank at 7:38 a.m., according to the report.
Hazmat teams decontaminated employees who pulled the man from the vat due to the toxic chemicals involved, Fasnacht said.
He said the employees were informed of the hazards of coming in contact with the chemical and advised to go to the hospital, but all refused treatment.
Fasnacht added that the workers were “obviously distraught.”
“Some of his co-workers pulled from the situation that he was in and were working on him,” he said. “That would be traumatic to anyone in any line of work.”
The company is calling in assistance for employees.
Fire crews previously responded to Techmetals for incidents like fire alarms and medical emergencies, but Fasnacht couldn’t recall any prior hazmat calls at the company.
This is not the first time OSHA has been called to investigate the company. They had an OSHA violation in 2017, according to the agency’s website.
During that incident, an employee was burned by hot water during a tank transfer. The water was between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The employee was hospitalized and received treatment for his injuries, according to OSHA.
Techmetals works with chemicals that are used for metal plating and coating for different industries.
We will continue to update this story as more information is available.