Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family says man who fell to his death believed in safety

Homero Levario Juarez, 52, of Lehigh Acres was on a rare job that took him away from family.

Homero Levario Juarez, 52, of Lehigh Acres was on a rare job that took him away from family.

ST. PETERSBURG — Homero Levario Juarez stopped traveling for work years ago.

The 52-year-old Lehigh Acres man, who fell to his death this week at a St. Petersburg water treatment plant, had always worked with his hands. For decades, he took construction jobs all over the country.

But when Juarez met his wife about 20 years ago, he wanted to stay close. He got a job at Spectrum Contracting in Naples, eventually taking a supervisor position and working mainly in Lee County.

A few weeks ago, he accepted a rare assignment that would take him away from his family for an extended period of time. He and his crew were contracted to do maintenance work at the city of St. Petersburg's Northwest Water Reclamation Treatment Facility at 7500 26th Ave. N. His family was expecting him to return home for the holiday weekend.

Something went wrong about 11:15 a.m. Thursday. Juarez, authorities said, fell off a platform and dropped 30 feet to the concrete bottom of a 5 million-gallon water tank.

"He would leave right after work on Fridays," said his stepdaughter, Maggie Arizmendi of Naples. "He would have been home for Easter."

Officials initially said Juarez, who was doing maintenance on the wall of the tank, did not appear to be wearing a safety harness.

But police on Friday said Juarez was wearing a harness — but it wasn't tethered to anything. Investigators said Juarez was inside the basket of a scissor lift and was working with a pressurized liquid concrete hose. They believe that once the hose was charged, it caused a recoil at the nozzle, which Juarez was holding.

The jolt propelled Juarez backward and out of the basket.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

Arizmendi, 35, said her stepfather was always big on safety.

"This is why it's so shocking for us," she said Friday. "There's a lot of questions. We're trying to piece together everything."

Arizmendi said her mother, Lourdes, also 52, is in shock.

The couple met through friends years ago. She was a housekeeper at a hospital. He bought her a house, remodeled it and helped raise her three daughters. He also had five children in Texas, Arizmendi said.

"He was an amazing person," she said. "He was very good to us. He was very good to my mother. He took care of us all."

If a friend or family member needed repairs, Juarez did them. He loved to fish and had just gotten a boat. This weekend, he would have gone to church with his family and grilled an Easter meal for them afterward.

About 4:30 a.m. Thursday, he called his wife to make sure she was awake for her part-time cleaning job. He told her he loved her, and called her Sweetie Pie.

Several hours later, Juarez's bosses told his family he was dead.

"Never did we think this would ever happen," Arizmendi said. "He loved my mom so much. He would never want to leave her … especially like this. We'll miss his charisma, his positive advice, his patience … his smile."

Family says man who fell to his death believed in safety 03/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  2. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  3. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  4. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]