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Published: Friday, 10/24/2003

Woman injured at factory gives birth before dying

BY KIM BATES AND ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

A Cloverdale, Ohio, woman who was hurt in a factory accident early yesterday gave birth to a 26-week-old baby by cesarean section before dying of her injuries.

Following the accident, which occurred shortly after midnight at Progressive Stamping, Inc., a metal-stamping plant in Ottoville, Ohio, Monica Boecker, 23, had her baby at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima, Ohio.

Hospital officials confirmed last night that the baby was in critical condition at St. Rita's, but declined to disclose the infant's gender.

The baby was born at 26 weeks - a full-term birth typically is 40 weeks.

Ms. Boecker was pronounced dead at Medical College of Ohio Hospitals in Toledo at 7:45 a.m., about 7 1/2 hours after she was injured.

Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner, said Ms. Boecker was hurt when she entered a machine that was shut down at the time.

At some point, the machine restarted, Dr. Barnett said. Authorities were still investigating how the metal-stamping press machine restarted.

Dr. Barnett said she planned to conduct an autopsy at the Lucas County coroner's office this morning.

Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler said authorities believe the incident was an accident, with no criminal intent or foul play involved.

He said Ms. Boecker was caught inside a steel stamping press, where she sustained head injuries.

According to the sheriff's department, local emergency crews were dispatched to the Ottoville plant at 12:23 a.m., during the factory's second shift.

Ottoville, a town with a population of 873, is located 75 miles southwest of Toledo.

The accident is being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Toledo office, which did not release any information yesterday.

Dick Tracy, of OSHA, said safety officials were at the plant yesterday and planned to return to the scene today.

He said it will take OSHA several days to investigate the accident. OSHA has up to six months to file a complete report.

OSHA records reveal that a safety complaint had been filed against the metal stamping company in late April. The safety concerns - the most serious being a nonsecured opening in the ground or wall - was rectified by the company.

Progressive Stamping employs 185 people at its Ottoville plant, and has 1,200 employees nationwide.

Plant manager Bob Christie declined to comment about the accident when he was reached at his home last night.

Blade staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.



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