CANTON -- The March 2016 death of a TimkenSteel employee has led to a lawsuit filed by his estate in Stark County Common Pleas Court.

Kenneth B. Ray Jr. died from asphyxiation after entering a room filled with nitrogen gas. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling more than $25,000 from TimkenSteel and other as of yet unidentified businesses and individuals.

Ray, who lived in Portage County, worked as a fire technician at the Faircrest Steel Mill. On March 20, 2016, he was performing routine monthly inspections of fire extinguishers when he entered a freight elevator motor control room where nitrogen gas had displayed oxygen. Ray died because of a lack of oxygen in the room.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined nitrogen had been introduced into the ventilation system and leaked into the room. At the time, TimkenSteel used nitrogen to power pneumatic tools. The company ended that practice, OSHA officials said in September 2016.

OSHA cited the company for failing to train workers how to detect nitrogen leaks from pneumatic power tools, as well as for not training workers on the hazards or effects of nitrogen leaks. The agency also said the company failed to protect workers from potentially hazardous situations created when nitrogen is introduced into a ventilation system.

The lawsuit filed by Ray's estate cites results of OSHA's investigation. Investigators determined the oxygen level in the room was less than 4 percent. OSHA officials said Ray's death was a "preventable workplace incident."

The suit contends that still unidentified individuals also are liable because they contributed to the situation that led to an oxygen deficient environment in the freight elevator motor control room.

Ray, 32, worked with TimkenSteel's security and fire team. He also was an 11-year veteran of the Uniontown Fire Department and had worked as an officer with the Creston Police Department.

TimkenSteel declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The lawsuit was filed by Rumizen Weisman Co. of Cleveland.