Sunday, July 9, 2017

1 killed, 1 injured after an ultralight plane impacted the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu Rock southeast of Naval Air Station Point Mugu (KNTD), Ventura County, California

A man died after a two-seat ultralight aircraft crashed into the ocean near Mugu Rock on Saturday, officials said.

After getting the report of the crash, rescue crews responded at 4:46 p.m. to the 7300 block of Pacific Coast Highway, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Fire Capt. Dennis O'Shea said there were three ultralight planes flying in the area and they were headed back to the Camarillo airport. One of them began having engine trouble and crashed into the water about 150 yards from Mugu Rock, O'Shea said. Initial reports indicated two aircraft crashed, but officials later said only one had crashed.

Both people on the aircraft, described as men in their 50s, were taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. One of them suffered minor injuries and appeared to be fine, but the other man was not, O'Shea said.

"That gentleman was nonresponsive when he left here in the ambulance," O'Shea said from Mugu Rock.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said about 7:40 p.m. that one person on the aircraft had died.

Two couples from Los Angeles County were camping in the area when they saw the aircraft go down and called for help. John Pitzer, of El Segundo, and Alex Daniels, of Torrance, immediately went into the water after the crash. Daniels' wife, Angie, called 911.

"We were watching them fly and all of a sudden, he gets lower and lower," Pitzer said.

Pitzer and Daniels went down the cliff and helped the men get to shore. Pitzer said he helped a man who was farther from the crashed aircraft and who appeared to be having a difficult time swimming.

They said they saw the man treading water at first, but he did not seem to be a strong swimmer. The other crash victim, who was closer to the aircraft, was able to swim to shore, and Daniels helped him get on the rocks.

Once he was there, Daniels helped Pitzer get the other man onto the rocks. That man was unconscious, so the campers started performing CPR, which was difficult to do on the rocks as the water came in.

"We were doing CPR, but we weren't getting much oxygen into him," Pitzer said.

Soon, rescuers arrived and continued to perform CPR before a basket was lowered down the cliff and the crash victim was brought up to the roadway. Steve Swindle, a county fire spokesman, said CPR was being performed because the man was in cardiac arrest.

When talking to one of the fliers, Pitzer said he learned that both men had control of piloting the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the incident and was investigating along with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Crews from Naval Base Ventura County and the Ventura County and Oxnard fire departments responded to the scene. Many of those same crews responded to a nearby head-on collision between and SUV and Mercedes that killed three people just a few days earlier.

The aircraft crash near Mugu Rock wasn't the first incident of the day involving an ultralight.

Hours earlier, firefighters responded to an ultralight that made a hard landing about 12:30 p.m. in the Santa Clara River bottom near Vineyard and Los Angeles avenues, authorities said.

There was no medical aid needed in that incident near Saticoy and the owner of the aircraft planned to retrieve it, authorities said.

Man Killed, Another Man Injured After Ultralight Aircraft Crashes Into Ocean Near Point Mugu 

  Mariel Turner and Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime, 

Updated at 02:25PM, July 9, 2017

One man died, and another man was injured, Saturday evening when an ultralight aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu, the Ventura County Fire Department reported.

The aircraft crashed around 5:20 p.m. at Pacific Coast Highway just south of Mugu Rock at Point Mugu. Officials said the men crash landed near the shore, but in the ocean.

One of the men was able to swim to shore, but the other man was rescued by a civilian who saw the crash, Officer Steve Swindle told KTLA.

The civilian began performing CPR on the rescued man until paramedics arrived, officials said.

Both men were transported to a local hospital in unknown condition.

On Sunday the Ventura County Coroner’s Office confirmed one of the men had died Saturday at the hospital.


POINT MUGU, Calif. (KABC) --

One man died and another was injured when a light-sport aircraft crashed near Point Mugu Saturday afternoon.

Ventura County Fire Department officials said the two men were pulled out of the water and onto shore after the aircraft crashed near the rock and Pacific Coast Highway around 5 p.m.

Civilians performed CPR on one of the men, who authorities said suffered a heart attack, until help arrived.

One of the men died, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. The other man was treated for a minor injury.

A Ventura County Fire spokesperson said the aircraft took off from the Camarillo Airport. They were flying with three other aircrafts that were all part of a flying club.

The cause of the crash was under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

Date: 08-JUL-2017
Time: -17:20
Type: Airplane


C/n / msn:

Fatalities: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location: Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu, Ventura County, CA - United States of America
Phase: Unknown
Nature: Unknown
Departure airport: Camarillo (KCMA)
Destination airport:

The aircraft impacted the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu Rock southeast of Naval Air Station Point Mugu (KNTD), Ventura County, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage and one of the two occupants onboard was fatally injured. One occupant onboard the aircraft received minor injuries.


Tree trimmer who was cutting the limbs from a tree behind 43 St. James St. in Lowell, Mass., critically injured after he fell at least 30 feet to the ground

 A safety tether hangs from the tree where a worker fell late Saturday afternoon. (SUN / AARON CURTIS) The tether remained at the top of the tree, which was surrounded by police tape.

LOWELL, Mass. - A man who was cutting the limbs from a tree behind 43 St. James St. is believed to have fallen at least 30 feet to the ground at around 5:40 p.m. Saturday.

The man, who was first reported in a Lowell police radio broadcast to be unconscious but breathing, was talking to emergency crews as they loaded him into an ambulance approximately 25 minutes after the fall.

A MedFlight helicopter was called to transport the man to a hospital in Boston, according to police. His identity and his medical condition were not available as of press time.

St. James Street residents who lived nearby the scene said that they had heard chainsaws coming from the property the past couple days. One woman said she had seen a man attached to the tree by a tether earlier in the day Saturday.

  A member of the Police Department said that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been called to investigate the incident, as the work being done on the tree was being carried out by a private contractor. 


LOWELL (CBS) — A man trying to trim a tree in Lowell has been sent to the hospital after falling about 30 feet to the ground.

“It was just terrible I mean I was just, you know, ya know frightened for the guy,” a witness said.

Frightening is the word. A tree worker in Lowell somehow fell about 30-feet from a tree he had been hired to trim.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene on St. James Street, put him into an ambulance, and took him to the hospital.

The scene shook up the neighbors.

“When I saw him being brought into the ambulance, he didnt look well. I mean, he looked like he was just, you know. His eyes were open, but he just didn’t look well.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith asked, “Kind of looked out of it a little?”

“Oh yeah, definitely,” the witness said.

At the top of the tree you could see what looked like a tether or some type of harness still hanging from a limb.

Tree from which the tree cutter fell. The harness is still on the tree. (Photo credit: WBZ-TV)

Later, another worker removed some equipment and police also took away some materials.

National Grid briefly came to the scene because they have some equipment nearby. But they say they victim is a private contractor hired by a resident to do some tree trimming. The victim, they say, does not work for National Grid.

Police will now investigate what went wrong.

“Accidents happen, course it was raining out and the tree was wet,” another neighbor said. “That had a lot do with it too.”

The man’s name is not being released and his condition is now known at this time.

SKYDIVER DEPARTS FOR THE HEAVENS: Skydiver, Randy Schell, was killed and another was injured after they accidentally collided at Skydive Spaceland Houston

Sunday, July 09, 2017 02:22PM
ROSHARON, Texas (KTRK) -- One skydiver was killed and another was injured after they accidentally collided at Skydive Spaceland Houston on Saturday. Voice actor Randy Schell has been identified as the skydiver who died.

Schell was the voice of the television shows Judge Alex and Texas Justice.

Skydive Spaceland confirmed that two skydivers collided mid-air during a group skydive at the facility.

Both skydivers were experienced and licensed. Both had even made at least one successful skydive earlier that day.

Both skydivers deployed their parachutes normally, but collided afterward. They sustained injuries in the collision and on landing. Skydive Spaceland says weather was not a factor.

The other skydiver has not yet been identified.

There have been nine deaths at Skydive Spaceland Houston since they opened in 1999.

In June 2013, instructor Miguel Carrasco was making solo jumps with a group when his parachute malfunctioned.

In March 2011, two skydivers were killed when their chutes got tangled during a jump.

In March 2008, a student skydiver was killed when his chute did not work properly.

In November 2007, Skydive Spaceland maintenance worker Scott Bell made a solo jump and his chute malfunctioned. His body was found in a field near Spaceland.


Experienced skydiver and longtime voiceover actor Randy Schell has died after a midair collision during a jump at a southeast Texas skydiving center.

The Houston area center, Skydive Spaceland, said in a statement that two seasoned skydivers deployed parachutes normally during a planned group jump on Saturday but that they later collided and fell to the ground, killing one and injuring the other, The Associated Press reports.

The man who died was identified as Schell by his longtime agent.

His agent, Jenny Bosby, on Sunday described Schell as a “generous, spirited man” who mentored many in his industry.

Schell’s voice has been heard my millions of people around the world.

He was the voice of commercials for AMC’s hit TV show “The Walking Dead” and had also done work for major brands including 20th Century Fox, McDonald’s, Geico, Coca Cola, Nike and others, reports KHOU 11 News.

A 6-year-old girl drowned at the swimming pool at the Nantucket Inn and Suites on Ocean Avenue in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Sunday, July 09, 2017 11:23AM
WILDWOOD, N.J. (WPVI) -- A 6-year-old girl drowned at a hotel pool in Wildwood, New Jersey.

It happened at the Nantucket Inn and Suites on Ocean Avenue.

Officials say the little girl was vacationing with several family members from Philadelphia when she wandered to the deep end of the pool.

She was underwater for several minutes.

The girl was rushed to Cape Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead Saturday evening.


Police are investigating the death of a 6-year-old girl who drowned in a pool at a Wildwood, NJ motel.

The child, CBS3 reports, was staying with her family at the Nantucket Inn & Suites, on the 4100 block of Ocean Avenue.

At around 4:30 pm, the child was found in the deep end of the pool, where it's believed she was submerged for several minutes.

Motel tenants found her, called 911, and removed her from the pool to perform CPR before she was rushed to Cape Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead Saturday evening.

Reports say the child and her family are from Philadelphia.

The Wildwood Police Department Detective Division is still investigating the incident but currently maintain that no suspicious circumstances were at play leading to her death.

ANOTHER DRUNK LOSES HER LIFE, KILLS ANIMALS, DESTROYS PROPERTY: 33-year-old driver Latoya Cooper and several animals were killed after a fiery crash at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in New Castle County, Delaware.


A driver and several animals were killed after a fiery crash at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in New Castle County, Delaware.

The family identifies the driver as a 33-year-old Latoya Cooper, a mother of five.

Juanetta Cooper, Latoya's mother, tells Action News she received a call from authorities soon after the crash.

"She went through the stop sign and must have kept going through. I just was bawling," Juanetta Cooper said.

It happened around 12:15 a.m. Sunday on the 800 block of South Street in New Castle.

Officials say the driver lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the building; the impact of the crash resulted in a fire.

Emergency personnel and volunteers removed 100 animals from the burning building.

Two cats needed emergency veterinary care; one died from its injuries, and the other is being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Two other cats lost their lives in the fire. The other animals have been relocated to temporary housing and are being examined by medical personnel.

A total of 98 animals, 36 cats and 62 dogs, were moved to other locations.

Most of the drunk-related (or DUI crashes) occur in the early a.m. hours, like this one here.

The fire was extinguished within a half hour, but it severely damaged the veterinary clinic inside the structure.

Smoke and water also caused damage to the shelter section of the building.

SPCA officials say they are incredibly thankful for the rapid response from firefighters and neighbors who saved the surviving animals.

The facility will be closed for an undetermined period of time, pending a building inspection and possible subsequent cleanup and repairs.

This same SPCA branch recently agreed to take on animals from lower Delaware while the facility there expands.

Police have not yet determined what caused the driver to crash into the building.

The BVSPCA say they need the community's help during this crisis. Officials say anyone who has been thinking of adopting should visit one of their other adoption locations: the Georgetown, Del., campus; the PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center in Dover, Del.; or the West Chester, Pa. campus. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The BVSPCA says financial donations are also needed to help with the additional cost to care for the animals and the damage to the building.



A 33-year-old Delaware woman died early Sunday when her sports utility vehicle crashed through the front of a New Castle animal shelter.

Latoya Cooper, identified by family at the scene, died about 12:15 a.m. Investigators did not immediately give a cause for the crash.

Cooper and three cats at the Brandywine Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal shelter on South Street may have died from smoke and fire that broke out in the moments after the crash.

Cooper's mother came to the crash scene a few hours later and tearfully remembered her daughter, who she said is a mother of five.

"I felt something at two o'clock in the morning. I felt some kind of pain," Cooper's mother said. "Maybe it was her."

Nearly 100 other animals were displaced after the shelter was deemed uninhabitable. SPCA officials said the animals are being temporarily housed in other nearby shelters.

"The BVSPCA needs the community’s help during this crisis," the shelter said in a statement. "Anyone who has been thinking of adopting should visit one of the other BVSPCA adoption locations: the Georgetown, DE, Campus; the PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center in Dover, DE; or the West Chester, PA. Campus, Sunday hours are 10am to 5pm. Financial donations are also needed to help with the additional cost to care for the animals and the damage to the building."

FOURTH WORKER DIED AFTER THE TECO ACCIDENT: On July 8th, 2017 , Frank Lee Jones passed away from severe injuries that occurred on June 29th, 2017 at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Plant

Christopher Irvin (Deceased) age 40, of Tampa

Antonio Navarrete

Antonio Navarrete

George Gaffin

Frank Lee Jones, 55, died Saturday

On July 8th, 2017 , Frank Lee Jones passed away from severe injuries that occurred on June 29th,2017 at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Plant . Jones and his step son "Gary Marine Jr" alongside 4 other men were severely burned by molten material later claiming the lives of 4 workers including Jones.
On July 8th, 2017 , Frank Lee Jones passed away from severe injuries that occurred on June 29th, 2017 at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Plant . Jones and his step son "Gary Marine Jr" alongside 4 other men were severely burned by molten material later claiming the lives of 4 workers including Jones.
Amando Perez

Fourth TECO worker dies from industrial accident; 

55-year-old, Frank Lee Jones died Saturday.

By: FOX 13 News staff

Updated: Jul 08 2017 11:01PM EDT

TAMPA (FOX) - A fourth worker has now died from his injuries after the industrial accident at a TECO power plant on June 29.

A TECO spokesperson announced that 55-year-old, Frank Lee Jones died Saturday.

In an interview after the accident Jones’ wife, Tracy said, “Frank, that's my rock." The accident at TECO's Big Bend Power Plant left both her husband, Frank Lee Jones, and her son, Gary Marine Jr., fighting for their lives. Both suffered severe burns.

Both her husband and son worked for Gaffin Industrial - a contracting company in Riverview. Her husband had put in 27 years. Gary had just recently started.

LINK: Support for families of TECO accident victims

LINK: Support for injured worker, Amando Perez

After the accident, the company's president, Mark Gaffin called his company family-like. He organized a fundraiser at Alpha Pizza to benefit the Jones family and Chris Irvin's, who also died of his injuries.

"Chris was a phenomenal guy. Great, worked his butt off. We had more customers request Chris be there than just about anybody else," Gaffin said.

At the time, the workers were using a water-blaster to try and unclog a slag tank. That's when molten slag started spewing out. Three people died as a result. Most recently, 21-year-old Antonio Navarrete.

LINK: Support for Antonio Navarrete's family

Antonio Navarrete, a contractor working at the Big Bend Power Station, passed away after being hospitalized for several days.

“Our heartfelt prayers and sympathy are extended to his family and friends as we keep our primary focus on supporting our employees and their families during this difficult time,” wrote a spokesperson for his employer, BRACE Industrial Group.

Two other workers died at the scene.


Gaffin Industrial Services
We specialize in industrial waterblasting and vacuum services.  We utilize 10,000 to 20,000 psi waterblasting pumps. For Vacuum services, we utilize Guzzler and GapVax high volume Vacuum trucks. We are experts in online and offline cleaning of industrial systems.

Gaffin Industrial Services Inc. was founded in 1978 by George Gaffin.  Our headquarters are in Riverview, FL and we provide our services all throughout the state.  In 2009, Mark Gaffin and Dan McCleary purchased Gaffin Industrial and have been the owners ever since.  Together they have designed, developed, and patented specialized Online Cleaning services.
We have over 35 years experience in the following:
Powerplants - Boiler washes, Back pass, condensers, evaporators, hoppers, heat exchangers, scrubbers, waste water, etc.
Chemical plants - Storage tanks, reactors, drain lines, cooling towers, etc.
Food service plants - evaporators, clarification, sumps, sewers, wastewater, etc.
Theme parks - Sumps, Line cleaning, pond and lake cleaning, etc.

Hillsborough medical examiner: Two dead at TECO plant were power-washing near slag tank

By Sara DiNatale, Dan Sullivan, Anastasia Dawson and Neil Bedi

Saturday, July 1, 2017 12:29pm

Luis Santana | Times

Two people were killed and four people were seriously injured Thursday in what is being described as a "major incident'' at the Tampa Electric Company power plant in Apollo Beach, FL, Thursday, June 29, 2017. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue units responded to a 911 call about a possible explosion at the Big Bend Power Station at approximately 4:20 p.m.Four people were transferred to Tampa General Hospital, spokeswoman Ellen Fiss said. Two were transported by ground and two by air. None were identified as of Thursday evening. The hospital remains on stand-by in case there are more patients.

TAMPA — Both men killed Thursday at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach were using pressure washers moments before lava-like slag gushed out of a tank and burned them, according to preliminary reports released Saturday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.

The reports do not list an official cause of death for either man, but both were "covered in slag," the reports said.

Molten slag can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees. Officials for Tampa Electric said workers were trying to unplug the clogged tank when the accident occurred.

Both Michael McCort, 60, a senior plant manager, and Christopher Irvin, 40, a contract employee, died at the scene. Five others were transported to Tampa General Hospital.

Pressure washing is one of two common ways to clean out the inside of a slag tank, said Walter Godfrey, the president of Fire/Reconstruction Consultants Inc. in Cape Canaveral, which investigates fires and explosions.

"It's like using a sandblasting unit, except you're using water instead," he said.

McCort's family declined to speak with reporters. His daughter, Heather McCort, posted on Facebook Saturday morning that her father lost his life "helping others and being a hero."

"The world lost such a wonderful man, husband, grandfather and friend," she wrote.

Irvin's family also declined to speak with a reporter Saturday, saying they were in mourning. Irvin was never married, but was a father to one child and was expecting another, the medical examiner wrote. He worked for Gaffin Industrial Services in Riverview, one of Tampa Electric's contractors at the plant.

In 2007, a Gaffin employee was killed in White Springs while using a power washer to clean the inside of a hot-well tank, according to an investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The worker accidentally clipped his leg with the stream of water, which was so powerful that it cut his femoral artery. Gaffin was fined $35,000.

Four workers injured at the Tampa Electric plant remained in the hospital Saturday with life-threatening burns: Antonio Navarrete, 21, and Armando J. Perez, 56, both of Wimauma; and two Tampa men related by marriage, Frank Lee Jones, 55, and his stepson, Gary Marine Jr., 32.

Marine and Jones worked for Gaffin, like Irvin, the Times reported Friday. Navarrete and Perez worked for BRACE Industrial Group, the Times reported, along with an unidentified fifth worker, who was treated at the hospital and released.

McCort was the only worker who was a Tampa Electric employee.

Family members for the surviving workers could not be reached or declined to comment Saturday.

Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the company could not release new information about the accident Saturday. "This is a very complex investigation and we are unable to provide updates," she said.

Two investigators from OSHA have started an investigation that could last six months.


Two people were killed and four others were critically injured Thursday afternoon in a reported explosion at a large coal power plant near Tampa, Fla., authorities said.

Emergency workers responded around 4:20 p.m. to the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach and found six people with severe burns at Unit 2, one of its four coal-fired units. Two people were declared dead at the scene, and the four others were taken to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

The workers, who included one plant employee and five contractors, suffered burns and other injuries, said Corey Dierdorff, a spokesman for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

“They would be categorized as very severe,” Mr. Dierdorff said at a news conference.

A spokeswoman at Tampa General Hospital said about 7:30 p.m. that it would not immediately release the conditions of the four patients. Two people were taken there by air ambulance and the other two by ground.

Officials with the Big Bend plant, which is operated by Tampa Electric, said the episode occurred while workers were conducting “routine maintenance” on a slag tank at the bottom of Unit 2’s boiler. The tank collects coal slag, a glasslike waste product formed after the remains of burned coal are mixed with cold water. It is sold and reused as an abrasive in products like sandpaper.

The two workers who died at the plant were covered in slag, which can reach temperatures far above 1,000 degrees, authorities said.

“We are looking into what happened,” Cherie Jacobs, a Tampa Electric spokeswoman, said in an interview. “There are few details.”

Mr. ierdorff said about 7 p.m. that the situation was under control and that all other workers had been accounted for. Unit 2 was shut down after the explosion.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that investigates workplace accidents, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on Thursday night.

The agency levied a $25,200 fine in 1999 against Tampa Electric, which is a division of TECO Energy, for serious safety violations at the Gannon Power Station, another plant in Hillsborough County that now operates under a new name. The safety violations led to an explosion that killed three people and injured dozens more. In 2000, the company paid a $7,000 fine by OSHA in connection to an electrocution and $3,375 for violations related to the housekeeping of coal at Big Bend Power Station.

The Big Bend Power Station sits on about 1,500 acres off a road by the same name on a swath of waterfront land in Hillsborough County, about 15 miles southeast of downtown Tampa. It is among the largest plants in Florida, producing more than 1,700 megawatts of electricity.

The first of its four coal-fired units began service in 1970, according to the company. The second unit, where the accident occurred, went online in 1973. A natural gas and “fuel oil-fired peaking unit” was added eight years ago.

The plant also features a “Manatee Viewing Center” that The Tampa Bay Times said is a popular stop among tourists who can see the station’s towering stacks from almost anywhere in the city.


TECO, federal officials looking for answers in fatal power plant accident

TECO officials have not released much information but said the accident was caused by spillage from a slag tank at the Big Bend power plant just before 4:30 p.m. Thursday. (Bay News 9 image)
By Dalia Dangerfield and Saundra Weathers, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, July 06, 2017, 11:50 AM EDT

Update: 9:20 a.m. - BRACE Industrial has reported that BRACE employee Antonio Navarrete has died from injuries suffered during a industrial accident at Tampa Electric's Big Bend power plant on June 29.

"Our heartfelt prayers and sympathy are extended to his family and friends as we keep our primary focus on supporting our employees and their families during this difficult time," Chris Jones, Vice President, said.

Antonio Navarrete's mother sent in this photo of her son.

Original Report: Tampa Electric and federal officials are trying to determine the cause of Thursday's industrial accident that left two people dead and four others injured at the TECO power plant in Apollo Beach.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday morning it has officially opened an investigation into the accident.
Investigation ongoing into Thursday's fatal accident
Accident occurred in slag tank at Big Bend
TECO officials have not released much information but said the accident was caused by spillage from a slag tank at the Big Bend power plant just before 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The tank is located at the bottom of one of the power plant stacks. A slag is basically what's left over from producing power from coal.

"What happens is you burn coal and those burned bits of coal fall into this slag tank which contains water," said TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs. "It cools off those pieces and it makes them crystallize."

Routine maintenance on the slag tank was being conducted when the accident happened.

Two people died at the scene, she said. Two were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, and two others were taken by ground to Tampa General. They suffered severe burn injuries.

Officials released the names of the victims Friday afternoon. A contractor who died has been identified as Christopher Irvin, 40. A longtime TECO employee who died is not being identified at this time due to a request from the family. The four who suffered life-threatening injuries have been identified as Gary Marine Jr., 32, Antonio Navarrete, 21, Frank Lee Jones, 55, and Armando J Perez, 56.

TECO announced the situation was under control about two hours after the incident and that there was no threat to the public.
Family, former colleagues react

Less than a day later, family and friends of those lost were still devastated by what had occurred.

"I knew all those guys," said Steve Chamberland. "I worked with Frank [Lee Jones] and I worked with Chris [Irvin]. So I used to work with them and I know their work ethic. The hardest workers they got is those two guys."

The four men who suffered life-threatening injuries, along with the deceased Christopher Irvin, all worked for Gaffin Industrial, a contractor for TECO. Chamberland said Jones is the best at his job, which made the fact that this happened surprising.

"[Jones] is the guy," said Chamberland. "He’s the guy Gaffin would call if there was a tough job -- Frank wouldn’t do anything but the tough jobs. And everyone at TECO would ask, ‘Frank’s coming right?’ because they knew what he did."

Meanwhile TECO CEO Gordon Gillette spoke about the employee they lost in the accident.

"He worked at TECO for decades," said Gillette. "In fact, he was going to be celebrating his 35th work anniversary with TECO. He worked at TECO as a senior plant operator, he was well respected, and well liked by all of his fellow team members."

The family of that TECO employee has asked that we not identify him publicly, so that they can mourn in peace.
Union challenges use of contractors to increase profits

IBEW Local 108, the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, issued the following statement regarding the accident at Big Bend Power Station on June 29, 2017.

"IBEW Local 108 expresses our sincere condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in this tragic accident. The local hopes that those that were injured have a full and speedy recovery.

This incident could have been avoided - period. It's time to listen to the employees. It's time to stop using contractors to do “routine maintenance” when the safety of this maintenance has been questioned by employees. It's time to stop putting profit before safety. It's time to truly put safety first.

IBEW Local 108 has always been concerned and focused on employee safety. We are currently working with OSHA in their investigation, and we are determined to do all that we can to prevent this from happening again. This will take cooperation, understanding, and effort from all parties. It can't be one sided." 

Previous accidents

The incident occurred at the Big Bend Station, one of three TECO power plants and the largest. It runs on coal.

Thursday's incident comes almost two decades after a deadly explosion at TECO's Gannon power plant. That happened on April 8, 1999, with three people killed and 50 more injured.

Hydrogen contained inside the 375-megawatt generator exploded when the access cover was prematurely opened during a maintenance outage, Tampa Electric said the next day.

TECO was fined $25,200.

In July 2014, a contractor died when he slipped and fell while working at the plant. He fell through a grate on a catwalk.


Big Bend Power Station Explosion: Victims ID’d
Authorities have released the names of the two men killed and four critically injured in an explosion at TECO's Big Bend plant.

By Sherri Lonon (Patch Staff) - Updated June 30, 2017 2:21 pm ET

APOLLO BEACH, FL — As authorities continue to investigate the cause of a Thursday explosion at TECO’s Big Bend Power Station that left two people dead and four critically injured, the names of the victims have been released.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced the names Friday afternoon. Deputies say the wife of one of the fatality victims, a 60-year-old man from Riverview, requested his name not be released to the public. Patch is honoring that request.  

Christopher Irvin, 40, of Tampa was the other person killed when the incident, described as an industrial accident by authorities, occurred Thursday afternoon.

The four surviving victims remained at Tampa General Hospital Friday afternoon, the sheriff’s office wrote in an email to media. All four are described as having life-threatening injuries. Authorities say they are:
Gary Marine Jr., 32, of Tampa
Antonio Navarrete, 21, of Wimauma
Frank Lee Jones, 55, of Tampa
Armando J. Perez, 56, of Wimauma

The accident at the 603 Big Bend Road plant occurred shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Routine maintenance was being performed on a "slag tank" when the accident happened, TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs told Patch on Thursday. The tank contains burned pieces of coal and water.

Jacobs said five of the six people involved in the accident were contractors for TECO. One was an employee. Jacobs said the cause of the accident remains under investigation.

"It's a sad day here," Jacobs said on Thursday.

TECO officials also took to Twitter to express condolences to the families of those involved, and gratitude to first responders.

The Big Bend Power Station sits on 1,500 acres of land near Apollo Beach. It houses four coal-fired units, according to the TECO website.

No further information is available at this time.

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – The names of the victims from Thursday’s industrial incident at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Plant were released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. All next of kin were notified.
  • Christopher Irvin (Deceased) age 40, of Tampa
  • Michael Patrick McCort (Deceased) age 60, of Riverview
  • Gary Marine Jr. (life-threatening injuries) age 32, of Tampa
  • Antonio Navarrete (life-threatening injuries- deceased at the hospital) age 21, of Wimauma
  • Frank Lee Jones (life-threatening injuries - deceased at the hospital) age 55, of Tampa
  • Armando J Perez (life-threatening injuries) age 56, of Wimauma

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone who was touched by this incident,” said Gordon Gillete, president and CEO of Tampa Electric. “Safety is the No. 1 priority at Tampa Electric, and we are working hard to determine exactly what happened and why. We will be conducting a complex investigation to determine the root cause.”

One of the men killed was a TECO employee. All of the other victims were contractors working at the plant.

Gillete said there were courageous efforts in the plant to save the employees and contractors. The injured remain at Tampa General Hospital.

TECO and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are working together to investigate what happened at the Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach at about 4 p.m. Thursday. OSHA responds when there are work-related deaths or hospitalizations.

It was initially reported as an explosion by authorities, but TECO said it was a release of the molten slag, a leftover by-product from coal boilers at the plant.

What happened:
Coal-fired furnace burning above
The left over by-product drips down into slag tank below, which contains water
The burn-off crystallizes into slag – a crunchy glass-like material
The material is still molten hot at that time
That’s what spilled onto the employee and contractors

Workers were trying to unplug a hole in the slag tank at Big Bend Unit 2 when the material spilled out. There was vast quantity of slag on the floor – “6-inches deep and 40-feet in diameter,” Gillete said.

The OSHA inspectors were going over a long list of safety and health standards to see whether TECO may have violated standards that could have led to the incident.

“It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace,” said OSHA spokesman Michael D’Aquino.

Right now, OSHA still has an open investigation, looking into a chemical exposure incident that happened at the plant on May 24. That incident involved the release of Anhydrous ammonia that caused four employees to be hospitalized.

This latest investigation is expected to take several weeks.