Gibsonburg resident Nathan “Nate” Kern, 36, died from injuries he suffered when the roof collapsed July 7 at the
Fremont Company, a vegetable packing plant at 802 North Front Street in Fremont.
Contributions to the memory of Kern are to be made to the Nate Kern Family Memorial at any Fifth Third Bank branch office. Officials at the Fifth Third branch in Gibsonburg say the fund was established as a scholarship fund for Kern’s children, Raven and Daniel.
“Nate was a wonderful family provider and father,” states his obituary, provided to The Press by Herman-Kim-Veh Funeral Home in Gibsonburg.
“He enjoyed riding his Harley and spending time with family and friends in ‘Nate’s Garage Club.’ He also liked sports, especially the (Pittsburgh) Steelers and (New York) Yankees and shooting and starring in short films with his brothers,” the obit continues.
Kern was once a lifeguard at White Star Park, Gibsonburg. During that time, he met his wife Maria “Mary” Diaz. They were married in Fremont on Sept. 11, 1998.
He was working as a welder and fabricator for 15 years with B&W Welding, Fremont. Kern was inside the building as a contractor for B&W when the industrial accident occurred.
Also suffering injuries from the roof collapse were Todd Michael, 44, Mark Keckler, 32, and David Fisher, 50.
Fremont Fire Station No. 2 and the Fremont police were requested with two people trapped inside the factory building at 1:28 p.m. Five police officers and 13 firemen responded to the scene from Fremont.
“On our arrival we were directed to the packaging area of the plant where we found that an area of pre-tensioned concrete roof decking covering one-half of the building had collapsed,” states the Fremont Fire Department incident report.
“EMS was providing care of an injured person who had been removed from the collapse zone. EMS advised that two subjects were in the collapse zone and that contact had been made with one. Additional resources were requested with Ballville Fire being the first on scene,” the report continues.
“Efforts were made to ‘shore’ up the area near the first victim and the remainder of the collapsed area was searched for the remaining victim. Void areas were examined and voice contact was attempted to no avail. This subject (Kern), deceased, was located in an area of the collapse that was not survivable.”
The Toledo Fire Department and NOW region 1 USAR teams arrived on scene and the rescue portion was turned over to them with FFD assuming a support role. The first victim was removed at 5:24 p.m. and transported to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital by life flight.
The recovery of the second victim was accomplished by USAR Region 2 of Cleveland and USAR Region 5 of Summit County, Ohio, at 10:33 p.m., nine hours and 45 minutes after the call.
Other fire departments responding included Woodville Township, Pemberville-Freedom, Huron, and Sandusky Township. Madison Motors arrived with a boom truck and air bags.
Other personnel arriving on the scene included B&W cranes, Toledo Trench Rescue, the Fremont City Water Department, Toledo Command and Confined Space Rescue, Columbia Gas, OSHA personnel, State of Ohio Mutual Aid Association, Gordon Lumber, Clyde Mobile Command, a medical doctor, the State Fire Marshals Major Incident Vehicle, and Keith Loreno and Fire Marshals Communication.
Sandusky County Services delivered fans and cords for rehab, Universal Farms arrived on the scene with railroad ties, and Mosser Construction arrived with portable lighting.
Born on November 1, 1973 at Wood County Hospital, Nathan Kern was one of three sons of John and Linda K. (Pratt) Kern. In 1992, Nate graduated from Gibsonburg High School, where he was a wrestler, and he later attended welding and auto CAD courses at Terry Community College.
Nate is survived by his wife and children, and his parents, who now reside in Helena. Also surviving are brothers Tony (Genevieve) of Singapore and Josh of Hessville; grandparents Marylou Ziss of Englewood, Fla., Don L. Ziss of Bowling Green, and Gerald and Wilberta Kern of Helena; father-in-law Alfredo Diaz; “many other family members and his band of brothers,” states his obit.
His uncles, Tom, Tim, and Jerry Kern and mother-in-law Clarita Diaz precede him in death. Funeral services for Nathan Kern were at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Gibsonburg on Tuesday.