PERRY TWP. ‒ Patrick Ferrall couldn’t bring himself to organize a baseball or football game yesterday. His nephew loved watching sports with his three young sons, but the father will never be able to do that again.
Joseph Ferrall, 34, of Alliance, died on Friday from injuries sustained in a July 26 explosion at the TimkenSteel Faircrest plant. He and two other workers were injured when an oven exploded in the factory workshop.
He had been in critical condition in the burn unit at Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center since the explosion.
Last week, the family was seeking a hospital with specialist care to help save Ferrall, who suffered severe burns. Today they are planning a funeral and wondering how they will go on without him.
Family and friends have been protesting outside the Faircrest factory since his death on Friday. They want to make sure that no other family has to face life without a loved one.
“Your business will recover, my family never will.”
Armed with signs and wearing gray T-shirts with a red muscular arm and “Team Joey” written in red, the family was unwavering in their mission.
“(TimkenSteel) destroyed our family, who’s next?” was scribbled in red on a car that was near the group.
“Your business will recover, my family never will,” another panel said.
Others reminded the company that three young boys are now fatherless and their mother widowed at 34.
Patrick Ferrall said his nephew’s wife, Amber, and sons Tucker, 8, Colton, 6, and Jaxxon, 3, were his life. Everything he did was for them.
“He was a wonderful father, a wonderful husband and a little nephew,” he said with tears in his eyes.
Joseph and Amber Ferrall had a great romance
Patrick Ferrall said his nephew and Amber had a great romance, one that should have made them grow old together.
“It’s a love story that you don’t see anymore,” he said. “They would have been the people with the 75th birthday (in the newspaper) and everyone would ask how it worked.”
Wendy Saunders, Ferrall’s stepmother, said her daughter and Ferrall met while playing baseball when she was 8 years old. His son-in-law knew at the time that Amber would one day be his wife.
“He said to his grandmother, ‘Do you see that girl right there? I’m going to marry that girl,'” she recalled.
Ferrall, a 2006 Marlington graduate, was the “glue of the family,” Saunders said. “He kept everyone together.”
As the eldest of five children, his younger siblings looked up to him, she added.
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“They put money before human life.”
Nothing will bring his nephew back, but Patrick Ferrall hopes the family can use his nephew’s death to bring real and lasting change to safety practices at the Faircrest factory.
“It’s not a security-focused company,” Saunders said. “They put money before human life.”
Company executives recently told stock analysts the incident is still under investigation, equipment is being repaired and smelter operations have been grounded by the investigation and repairs. Mike Williams, president and chief executive, said he does not expect the accident to have a material impact on financial results for the remainder of the year.
TimkenSteel officials were unavailable Monday morning to comment on the protest.
The company had released a statement after Ferrall’s death on Saturday that read: “Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. We are supporting our employees with counseling resources. At this time, we continue to investigate the cause of the incident.”
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‘All they could hear on their radios was ‘Run!’
Megan King was among the protesters. Her husband, Justin, works at the facility. Her husband and Ferrall were best friends.
Her husband, on leave from the company, cannot bring himself to return to the factory.
Justin King was about 50 yards from the furnace when it exploded, his wife said.
“Everything went black. All they could hear on their radios was ‘Run!’ she says. “They thought the steel was falling. He and his partner held each other and ran out of the building.”
He saw his friend being helped out of the building. Ferrall told his friend to call his wife.
Saunders said it was two hours after the crash when TimkenSteel officials contacted Amber Ferrall to tell her her husband had been in an accident, but thanks to King she was already by her husband’s side as they were preparing to take her by helicopter to Cleveland Metro Hospital.
Ferrall, who spent seven years with the company, most at the Harrison plant, did not want to work at the Faircrest plant, his family said. After being made redundant last year, he was reassigned to Faircrest earlier this year when he was called back to work.
“He didn’t want to work here,” Saunders said. “He said it was dangerous. I think he was really scared and intended to leave.”
He was looking for a new job, his mother-in-law said.
“My husband remembers sitting on the porch of (Joseph and Amber’s) house when he got the call from (TimkenSteel),” King said. “They talked about the dangers but he thought it was safe (at the time).”
The pay was good, and the insurance and retirement benefits were better than his job as an assistant manager at Walmart, King added.
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“They don’t make many men like Joe.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
In June, the federal agency fined TimkenSteel $315,000 over a December fatality at the Gambrinus steel mill and, citing past accidents, placed the company in the serious offender program from OSHA.
Patrick Ferrall said that after December’s death changes were made but did not last.
“They do this and that (to improve safety) and two weeks later it’s the same thing,” he said.
Saunders, who spent days with her daughter at Ferrall’s bedside, asks people to pray that her daughter and grandsons find the strength to become homeowners without their husband and father.
“Tucker asked me who was going to work and take care of them now,” she said as tears streamed down her cheeks. According to her, the second son, Colton, suffers from anxiety while hiding his pain and tears.
“We prayed for a miracle, but it was just too late,” Saunders added.
King knew they were looking for a miracle but she reminded her friends that Ferrall was the miracle.
“They don’t make a lot of men like Joe,” she said.
Ferrall’s family and friends will continue to protest until changes are made, King added. They plan to demonstrate outside the TimkenSteel offices on Tuesday.
“I have to bury my best friend,” King added. “I don’t want to have to bury my husband.”
Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @aknappINDE
Funeral of Joseph Ferrall
Calling times will be for Joseph Ferrall, 34, of Alliance, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Cassidy-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, 75 S. Union Ave., Alliance, and from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. , 3295 S. Union Ave., Alliance, followed by funeral at noon and interment at Marlboro Cemetery.
A GoFundMe account has been created for Ferrall’s family. By Monday morning, over $107,000 had been raised.