Community comes together to help families of victims in TECO industrial accident

GoFundMe page set up, fundraiser scheduled
Posted at 11:21 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 11:26:35-04

A community is coming together this Thursday to support the families of the men injured and killed at a TECO Power Plant last week.

Last Thursday, a TECO employee and 5 contractors were performing routine maintenance work at the plant when hot molten slag landed on them. Two people were killed. The other contractors were injured and suffered severe burns.

RELATED: Industrial accident inside TECO's Big Bend Power Plant kills 2 workers, critically injures 4 others

Mark Gaffin is the president of Gaffin Industrial Services. He said 3 of those workers were his employees. Christopher Irvin was killed and had worked for Gaffin Industrial Services almost 17 years. The two other Gaffin Industrial Services employees, who were injured, were Frank Lee Jones and his step-son Gary Marine Junior. Jones has worked for the company 27 years. His step-son started about a little more than a year ago.

“I have trouble driving by. I don’t sleep well. It’s hard to think about other things,” Gaffin said.

Gaffin said the company is a close knit family and this is tough on all of them. 

“When something like this happened, it’s tragic for all of us. We’re all suffering from it,” Gaffin said. 

Gaffin described the men as hard-workers with incredible work ethic. He said the community has united around the families of his employees. 

This Thursday between 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. there will be a fundraiser to support the families of the 3 Gaffin Industrial Services employees. The fundraiser will be held at Alpha Pizza, Pasta, & Prime in Apollo Beach.

They have also set up a GoFundMe page to help as much as possible. 

“You’re hoping somebody will pinch you and say this is just a dream -a bad dream- a nightmare, but that’s not it. It’s reality so you can’t sit back and do nothing,” Gaffin said.

OSHA continues to investigate the incident. 

RELATED: Former TECO employee describes what makes a TECO plant so dangerous