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Fourth worker in Didion Milling explosion dies |

Fourth worker in Didion Milling explosion dies

CAMBRIA—Didion Milling officials announced on Tuesday the death of a fourth employee as a result of the May 31 explosion at the Cambria plant.

Angel Reyes, a 46-year old pack operator, died at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison on Tuesday morning, according to the announcement, succumbing to injuries he suffered during the explosion.

The explosion and ensuing fire at one of the plant’s buildings started at 11 p.m. May 31, sending about a dozen employees to the hospital. Officials initially said one worker died and two others were missing.

Early Thursday morning, the body of mill operator Duelle Block, 27, of Fox Lake, was recovered, with many in the community informed by a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Block’s daughter, created within hours of the accident.

The fund, which set out to collect $5,000, raised $10,755 from 268 people in five days.

Rescuers found the body of Robert Goodenow, 53, a forklift driver, on Thursday evening. The body of Pawel Tordoff, 21, who ran a packing machine at the plant, was located Friday morning and recovered Sunday. A fund set up for Tordoff’s family raised nearly $13,000 in three days.

Early Thursday morning, when few details about the situation were known, Cambria Village Clerk Lois Frank was receiving requests for information about where incoming donations and support could be directed. Material donations made their way to First Presbyterian Church before being shifted to the Cambria-Friesland Middle/High School.

“The day of the incident, we reached out to the food pantry at the First Presbyterian Church,” said Cambria Schools Superintendent Timothy Raymond. “We also started up food lines for the emergency management teams and just maintained that throughout the weekend and the First Presbyterian has its own food pantry and the decision was made between them, Didion, and us that if we could have a food pantry just for the families of Didion.”

The school, which for nearly two years has been in partnership with Didion through the Cambria-Friesland Career Coalition, opened the new pantry location Tuesday morning.

“The donations have just been outstanding and there have been wonderful people coming out from Didion to give the food out and the response has been overwhelming,” said Raymond. “That was one of the reasons to move the food bank was that we needed space.”

Although help is generally appreciated, Raymond said that with so much food on hand, what is most needed now are personal hygiene products, baby products, toiletries and kitchen accessories.

As a volunteer helped a woman fill up shopping bags under the shade of a yard tent, Andrew Wood, who at lunchtime had been stationed outside the school since 9 a.m., explained that with a half-freezer worth of dedicated cold storage space, meats would be helpful, seeing that they are stocked with comparatively little, with a few pounds of ground beef and a chicken.

“At the Village Board meeting last night we indicated that we’re calling people back already and that we have an ethanol plant that is not affected and we hope to get that up and operational in the next four to 10 days,” said Jeffrey Remsik of Bottom Line Public Relations on Tuesday, filling in gaps from a Friday news conference in which Didion Vice President of Operations Derrick Clark told attendees that there was every expectation to keep all employees following the incident.

“We’ll redeploy within our own work stations and elsewhere, we would find projects in the community if we could, whether it is projects at a school or projects at a park, where we can deploy our people, give them meaningful work and help the community as well,” Clark said.

Where redeployment is not an option for employees, such as those hospitalized, Remsik said that there is not a current timeline for worker’s compensation to come into effect.

“We’re working on it, though we don’t have anything right now,” said Remsik, explaining that it depends on how many employees are re-deployed among a host of other variables. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure everyone is taken care of.”

At the same time, community members were in Columbus over the afternoon for Block’s funeral, the first victim found.

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