One man dead after industrial accident

Shipworker dies on SS St. Mary's Challenger


by Vanessa Murphy

Milwaukee --- Ronald Hackensmith, age 60, died after his arm was severed on the SS St. Mary's Challenger while the ship was docked in Milwaukee on Saturday night. Hackensmith worked on the ship, and lives in Superior, WI.

According to the Medical Examiner's report, Hackensmith worked as a conveyorman who operated the ship's conveyor system, and his arm became caught on the conveyor. It appears Hackensmith was alone when the accident happened, and a dishwasher who was two decks above where Hackensmith was located heard his screams. He found Hackensmith's arm lying next to him. The conveyor moves 520 feet per minute.

It is unclear exactly how the accident happened, but according to the ME report there was an oil leak reported. Hackensmith asked for the engine to be shut down and restarted. Once it was shutdown, there is no record of Hackensmith requesting it to be started again. Workers told investigators the belt would sometimes slip if there was too much cement on it. During this trip, there were more than 9,000 tons.


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