Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Area man killed while working at family business
Officials say death due to electrocution
By Shelley Grieshop
BURKETTSVILLE - A 39-year-old business and community leader was electrocuted Monday at a slaughterhouse owned and operated by his family.
Joseph Werling of Burkettsville was found dead shortly after 6 p.m. by a family member at the business at 100 Plum St. He reportedly was alone and working on a boiler in one of the buildings.
Authorities are working with the National Weather Service to determine if the death was caused by lightning from a storm passing through the area. Details of the investigation have not been released.
"The National Weather Service is doing some charting for us. We're looking at lightning strikes," Darke County Coroner Dr. Tim Kathman said this morning.
The Darke County Sheriff's Office has labeled the case "non-criminal." The investigation has been turned over to the coroner's office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Detective Sgt. Mike Burns of the sheriff's office said.
Werling was vice president and plant manager of Werling and Sons - a business his great-grandfather and namesake, Joseph Werling, began in 1886.
Rick Werling, also of Burkettsville and an employee with the company, this morning said his cousin was an avid family man.
"He truly loved his family and his kids," he said. "His biggest hobby was spending time with his family."
Joseph Werling is survived by his wife, Kendra; two young daughters; his parents, Ed and Sally; and seven siblings.
Rick Werling said his cousin recently began "grooming" the next generation of family workers at the plant. It was something he enjoyed and took great pride in, he added.
Four generations of the Werling family participate in company operations. Monday marked the anniversary of the death of their grandmother, Eleanor, "the backbone of the business," Rick Werling said.
Joseph Werling began serving on the Burkettsville Fire Department in 1998 and was a member of the Ohio Association of Meat Processors. He also took an active role at St. Bernard Catholic Church, his family said.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time this morning.