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UNI - Rialto - crime scene

University of Northern Iowa employees and police investigate a steam leak behind crime-scene tape at Rialto dining facility on the UNI campus Monday. A UNI employee was killed in a "major steam leak" event, officials say.

CEDAR FALLS — A 10-year steamfitter at the University of Northern Iowa was killed Monday morning after a “major steam leak” at a dining hall, officials reported.

Kevin J. Bley, 61, a facilities management employee, died from his injuries in the steam distribution system tunnel, according to UNI.

The steam leak occurred around 8:40 a.m. Monday in Rialto, a dining hall on the University of Northern Iowa campus, according to Aaron Clingingsmith, interim director of university relations.

The dining hall had been closed for maintenance and repair from a prior steam leak Sept. 4.

Bley was reportedly injured as he was testing the steam distribution service, which heats the water for Rialto’s dining service, according to Clingingsmith. The system was being brought back online, he said, when the event occurred.

Officials called it a "tragic incident."

“UNI is built upon a campus culture of caring, and today our campus has lost a dedicated employee,” said UNI President Mark A. Nook in a written release. “Please keep Kevin’s family in your thoughts as they move through this difficult time.”

No other employees were injured.

“The only people in there (were) facility services people and people working on the system,” Clingingsmith said.

It was unknown what caused the major steam leak.

Clingingsmith said a prior steam leak happened on the steam distribution service around 2:30 a.m. Sept. 4, though no one was inside at the time, and emergency personnel were alerted to a fire alarm. That leak had forced the closure of the dining hall, and it has remained closed ever since awaiting repairs.

The college announced Monday evening it will bring in HBK Engineering LLC, a Chicago engineering design firm, to perform an independent review "of the protocols and procedures as it pertains to this incident."

Courier editor Nancy Newhoff contributed to this article.

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Multimedia Reporter

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