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Oscar “Pat” Conley traveled away from his home in Milton routinely to take contracting jobs around the state.
He spent much of his time on the road, ultimately becoming estranged from family.
"He was a good guy," said Dawn Conley, his sister-in-law. “We all liked him.”
A trip to Tampa Electric’s power plant in Riverview this week for a new contract job would be his last.
During an orientation tour Wednesday at the plant, Conley, 61, wandered away after falling ill and died out of view of other employees, authorities said. He wouldn’t be found for 24 hours.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this man,” said Cherie Jacobs, TECO spokeswoman.
Medical care was offered to Conley but he declined, Jacobs said. As the group continued walking, authorities said, Conley wandered away by himself.
His family said this was not out of character for Conley and described him as a "loner."
When the orientation ended and plant officials noticed Conley was missing, company officials said they searched for him and tried calling him. However, their efforts proved fruitless.
"TECO did try to reach him later in the day and by other methods and were not able to, so we presumed he had gone home," Jacobs said.
But Conley was still on power plant property. A contractor would come across his body Thursday afternoon in a field next to a large piece of metal that may have blocked him from view.
"The pieces of equipment that he's near are about the size of a car," Jacobs said. “Even walking by, it's not obvious somebody might be there.”
Deputies believe Conley sat down in an outside storage area, collapsed and then died from natural causes.
Detectives and Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office staff examined Conley's body at the plant and saw no outward signs of trauma.
Authorities said Conley had several medical conditions that could have contributed to his death.
An autopsy will be conducted to find the exact cause of death.
Conley's family told ABC Action News they want him remembered as an upbeat person who was an avid Florida State University fan. He is survived by his son; daughter; three grandchildren; two sisters and their husbands; one brother and his wife; as well as many nieces and nephews.