TAMPA - When Ron Ferrall waved goodbye to his next-door neighbor Tuesday morning, he never knew the kind of job his friend was heading to that day. Ferrall also didn't know it would be the last time he'd ever see him alive.
Ferrall knew Hercules Gilmore, 56, as an over-the-fence friend, someone he would share doing backyard projects.
"'We've got vegetables, and we'd give him veggies and bananas," Ferrall said. "And his son, I'd help him with some woodworking projects."
Ferrall said he was stunned to hear that Gilmore had been killed in an unloading accident on a ship at the Port of Tampa.
"He was a really friendly guy," Ferrall said.
Tampa Fire-Rescue investigators said several stevedores working for the International Longshoreman's Association were bundling massive pipes in the cargo hold for transport off the ship.
During a crane lift, a strap snapped, sending the pipes plummeting to the ship's deck, and then back into the cargo hold. Several workers ran for cover, including Gilmore, who was unable to avoid the falling pipes.
Another worker, 50-year old Andre Futrell, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital where he underwent surgery. His condition was upgraded to fair Wednesday afternoon. Several others escaped the accident unharmed.
The ship, Honesty Ocean, was carrying the pipes, which authorities described as extremely heavy.
"The pipes are about 30 feet long, four inches in diameter, made of steel, very thick walled pipe," said Emilio Salavarria with Tampa Fire-Rescue. "They're off-loading it in bundles which weigh about a ton each," he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Organization has been called in to investigate the accident.
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