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School employee electrocuted

The maintenance worker was killed as he switched transformers at Shaw Elementary.

By TAMARA LUSH
Published September 3, 2003

TAMPA - A 29-year-old school district employee was electrocuted Tuesday morning as he tried to repair a fluorescent light at an elementary school, authorities said.

Patrick Alfonso thought he had to replace a faulty bulb in the media center of Shaw Elementary on 15th Street in north Tampa, said district spokesman Mark Hart.

As it turned out, a transformer that supplied electricity to the bulb had malfunctioned, and Alfonso was switching transformers when he was electrocuted.

Another maintenance worker and an assistant principal were the only other people in the media center at the time, Hart said.

"They heard a pop, the lights flickered, and heard (Alfonso) emitting a low moan," said Hart.

Alfonso was taken to University Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

There were no children nearby at the time of the incident, Hart said.

Tampa police, who investigated the incident, said Alfonso's death was an accident. The school district is also conducting an investigation.

Alfonso worked for the school district for seven years as a "multi trades" employee. He was assigned to do maintenance on several schools, including Shaw Elementary.

"He was not a regular presence" at any one school, said Hart, so it is likely that children at the school did not know him.

Still, Shaw Principal Velia Pedrero sent a note to parents home with the students to explain the tragedy. Crisis counselors met with faculty and staff Tuesday and will be available to meet with students if needed.

Alfonso has a large extended family in Tampa, Hart said.

This is the second death at a Hillsborough school in the past week.

Last week, a 47-year-old contractor working at Trapnell Elementary School died when he was accidentally struck by a power saw.

Hillsborough sheriff's officials said James Eugene Doiron of Ruskin, an employee of Apollo Construction Co., was cutting concrete with a large saw Thursday morning when it became stuck. When he tried to free the saw, it struck him in the neck and shoulder.

- Tamara Lush can be reached at 226-3373 or lush@sptimes.com

[Last modified September 3, 2003, 01:32:04]


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