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Man crushed to death in forklift accident near Tampa

TAMPA — Shortly before he was to leave work for the day, a Palm River man died on the job early Thursday when the forklift he was driving overturned and crushed him.

Ricardo McCalop, 51, was moving a steel beam when it struck a pile of other beams, causing it to shift and topple the forklift, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He was trapped under it.

The accident happened about 1:30 a.m. at Infra-Metals, a structural steel company at 5208 S 24th Ave. in Palm River.

McCalop's mother, Louise, 73, said he was the hard-working father of eight children. Married to wife Rosie, he marked his birthday just last week.

"He just worked hard for his family and he loved his children," his mother said. "He was basically a family man, and did not have much of an outside life because he worked all the time."

He did have a love for football and movies, though, and she and her son particularly enjoyed watching documentaries together.

Louise McCalop said her son was scheduled to work until 2 a.m. Thursday. She said he had called one of his sons around 1:25 a.m., roughly five minutes before the accident occurred, to tell him he'd be leaving work soon.

Infra-Metals is owned by Reliance Steel & Aluminum, which is headquartered in Los Angeles. Infra-Metals has eight locations nationwide, according to its website, mostly in the eastern United States.

"It was a tragic accident," said Will Smith, vice president and general counsel at Reliance. "Most important, we want to extend out condolences to Mr. McCalop's family in the wake of this tragic accident."

He declined further comment.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which monitors workplace conditions, also declined to comment on the incident except to confirm it is investigating.

Records show OSHA previously has investigated accidents at Infra-Metals locations five times, though this is the first investigation into an accident at its Hillsborough County site.

The previous incidents include a death that occurred in 2003 at its Wallington, Conn., location when a trash bin fell off a forklift and crushed a worker.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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