Remembering John

NORTH JACKSON – One year ago, a Niles man was killed in an industrial accident while working at Extrudex Aluminum.

On Wednesday night, a group of about 50 people gathered outside the plant on Mahoning Avenue for a candle light vigil to remember the victim, John J. Tomlin Jr.

Those in attendance carried candles, shared memories of Tomlin and released illuminated balloons in his honor. Some in the congregation donned shirts and photos with Tomlin’s image emblazoned on them as they mourned his death.

Shannon Tomlin, mother of the 21-year-old Extrudex employee, helped organize the event at the scene of the accident to send a message to those inside.

“I want these people in this plant – every one of them – to know that John is not forgotten,” Tomlin said. “Even though it has been a year, he isn’t forgotten by a long stretch. We’re still here, we still remember him and we’re still devastated.”

The accident occurred when a rack of heavy, hot aluminum parts fell on the worker. The plant was later cited with eight safety violations after the death, which occurred on Oct. 30, 2012.

The violations include seven willful and three repeat, stemming from what OSHA described as “exposing workers to machine guarding hazards at its Hubbard metal container manufacturing facility.”

However, for family and friends, the company being found in violation is of little comfort a year later.

“They never apologized and they never even said they were sorry about anything,” John Tomlin’s paternal grandmother Sue Kern said. “They didn’t even acknowledge his death. I just want them to know that he was loved.

“He wasn’t just a number to us. He was my grandson,” she said.

Extrudex, based in Canada with 140 employees at its North Jackson plant, is now in OSHA’s severe violator program.

The company could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. Earlier this year, it had appealed the citations, arguing that it believes there was nothing the company could have done to prevent the tragedy.