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Streator firm settles with OSHA

A Streator company has settled with OSHA in connection with an employee's on-the-job death last year.

Luckey Transfer entered an agreement with OSHA to pay $43,500 in penalties, which the company paid in full Jan. 31, according to the agency. That amount was negotiated down from initial fines of $62,454.

On July 17, Hunter Austin Wolfe, 17, a Luckey employee, climbed a rail car to gain access to a load and somehow got too close to the high-tension power lines that ran along railroad tracks, officials said. He was electrocuted and found by fellow employees at the site.

The company has a schedule to remove violations, with the last deadline being June 1, said Rhonda Burke, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor.

"The company has met the requirements for abatement dates that have passed. The case will not be considered closed until all abatement has been completed," Burke said in an email.

According to OSHA, Luckey did not provide a workplace that was free from "recognized" hazards that would likely cause death or serious harm to employees, because they were exposed to falls or amputation hazards.

In August, Wolfe's family filed a lawsuit in Cook County Court against ComEd, Norfolk Southern Railway Corp., Luckey Transfer, Luckey Logistics and Chamlin & Associates.

In an interview, Chicago attorney Mark Novak said he was aware of the penalties against Luckey Transfer. He said the defendants all showed "egregious negligence."

"The resolution of those fines has no bearing on the wrongful death lawsuit we have filed against various parties," he said. "We allege in our lawsuit that various OSHA regulations were violated at the time of this occurrence. The OSHA investigation revealed a number of the allegations we make in our complaint."

In a news release last year, Novak said it was "unconscionable" for Wolfe's supervisors "to send a 17-year-old child on top of a railroad tank car, without proper training and without a partner, in close proximity to overhead power lines."

Novak said the family decided to file the lawsuit in Cook County because some of the defendants are based there.

This would have been Wolfe's senior year at Streator High School.

A Luckey Transfer executive referred questions to the company's attorney, Joe Feehan, who declined to comment. 

 
"It's Luckey Transfer's policy not to comment on pending litigation," he said.

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