WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Friends and family of a man killed during a workplace accident gathered to remember him Saturday night with a candlelight vigil.
Exactly one year ago Saturday, Russel Scharenbroch Jr. was killed at Grand Rapids Plastics while trying to clean an injection molding machine. He was caught inside and was crushed.
After looking into Sharenbroch’s death, investigators slapped Grand Rapids Plastics with 55 violations — and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) penalized the company more than half a million dollars.
They found that the company did not make sure the machine was turned off while Scharenbroch was cleaning it — and follow up investigations found a pattern of that happening at Grand Rapids Plastics.
Now, Scharenbroch’s widow, Angel, is speaking out for the first time.
“We are gonna have justice for Russ. We are never gonna be silenced. Just because he doesn’t have a voice — we have a voice for him and it will be heard. And we’re not going away, we won’t go away,” said Angel Scharenbroch.
Russel Scharenbroch was described by family as “phenomenal.” He was a loving father of six.
Saturday’s vigil took place right across the street from Grand Rapids Plastics.
Angel Scharenbroch says the company hasn’t done anything to help her family.
“I got a phone call the day after my husband was killed that said, we are sorry, we would like this to stay between us, you, and the company, no media, no lawyers, no nothing.”
People released candlelit balloons into the sky to honor Scharenbroch.
Friends also brought black and yellow balloons — they represent the United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities. Angel Scarenbroch has now joined that group.
“Going to work should not be a grave mistake. You need to be safe, you need to stand up against your employer if they’re not safe. And make sure they’re going home.”
24 Hour Hour News 8 asked Angel Scharenbroch if she was filing a lawsuit against Grand Rapids Plastics — she said she could not comment, but ask that we contact her lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger.
Sharenbroch’s family told 24 Hour News 8 that Grand Rapids Plastics is working to appeal their fine.
Their office was closed Saturday.
24 Hour News 8 has made prior attempts to contact them — but we did not hear back.