Machinists Union offering counseling to Olin workers after employee killed on the job

THE OLIN/WINCHESTER facility in East Alton.

Co-workers of the Olin Corp. employee killed last week in a workplace accident will get some help from their union.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is offering critical incident response team (CRIT) counseling to anyone who may need help after the accident, which occurred on Thursday, June 22.

Oscar “Zeke” Bettorf, a member of Teamsters Local 525, was driving a semi-truck with a trailer loaded with shotgun shell primers that exploded while being transported within the Olin property on Powder Mill Road in East Alton. The autopsy concluded that Bettorf suffered blunt trauma to the head, neck, chest and pelvis.

The explosion is under investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as Olin Security, East Alton Police, Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigations, the Illinois Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office.

The OSHA investigation alone may take as much as six months to come to a conclusion.

But as the investigation goes onward, witnesses and coworkers might need some counseling to deal with it, and that’s where the CIRT comes in.

“They are our own trained professional team who offer counseling, guidance and care after a workplace tragedy such as this,” read a statement from the IAMAW. “It is strictly confidential and voluntary.”

Bettorf, 60, of Bunker Hill, grew up in Carpenter, Ill. and graduated from Edwardsville High School in 1980. In addition to his work as a union driver, he spent some time as a ranch hand in Colorado and had a side business selling horse tack, according to his obituary. “This was his true passion, where his talented handiwork allowed him to work with people, horses, and leather,” the obituary read.

He was survived by his wife, Marina Bort; two daughters and seven grandchildren, as well as five siblings and nieces and nephews. “Zeke was known and loved for his hard work, his love for animals and horseback riding, and for his contagious smile,” the obituary read. “He will be missed by all.”

Those who wish to seek counseling do not have to be members of IAMAW in order to use the free service. The counselor will be at Local Lodge 660, located only a few blocks away from Olin at 161 N. Shamrock St. in East Alton. Anyone interested should contact Vincent Ceraso at 888-250-4426.

Visitation was be held onThursday, June 29 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Prairietown, and the funeral on Friday, June 30 at the church. Memorials should be directed to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Weber & Rodney Funeral Home is managing the arrangements.

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