Third worker dies after TECO Power Plant incident

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A third person has died following an industrial incident at TECO’s Big Bend Power Plant last week.

Antonio Navarrete, 21, of Wimauma was one of four workers who was critically injured in the incident. Officials say Navarrete died on Wednesday as a result of his injuries.

First responders found two people dead inside the TECO facility last week. They were identified as Christopher Irvin, 40m and Michael McCort, 60.

There was a fundraiser held Thursday for the TECO victims and their families at Alpha Pizza House in Apollo Beach from 6-8:30 p.m.

“Horror. Disbelief. This can’t be real. This must not be happening. Someone wake me up,” said Mark Gaffin.

That was Gaffin’s response after hearing some of his employees and best friends were involved in the accident at TECO.

“It’s just heart wrenching. You literally shake.”

Gaffin had three employees involved in the accident. His 17-year veteran Chris Irvin didn’t make it.

“He was like my own son,” Gaffin said.

Irvin is described as a hard working family man, a man that many depended on.

“Chris has three children and another one on the way. So, his family is already expanding and they’re going to need help.”

Frank Lee Jones, 55, and his stepson Gary Marine Junior, 32, are also Gaffin employees and also seriously injured and remain hospitalized, along with Armando Perez, 56.

“Frank is the patriarch of his family. He took care of so many. He has 12 grand kids and he took care of so many of his family. They depended on him and we are going to have to fill those shoes as much as we can.”

Gaffin is doing what he can, but hopes the community will also step up.

“You gotta be strong, you gotta be encouraging, you gotta let these people know we’re going to be there for you,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s remembering the good times and clinging to those.

“There’s moments of brightness in the middle of darkness and if you can focus on those, you can get through the darkness.”

TECO and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are working together to investigate what happened. The investigation is expected to take several weeks.

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