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State opens probe into death of BP Whiting Refinery contractor, who was engaged to be married

State opens probe into death of BP Whiting Refinery contractor, who was engaged to be married


The state of Indiana has opened an investigation into the death of a 23-year-old union tradesman who died after a 30-foot fall at the BP Whiting Refinery Wednesday.

"A report of a fatality has been made to the Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration division," Indiana Department of Labor spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said. "An IOSHA compliance inspection is in progress. OSHA regulations are in place to prevent workplace incidents from occurring."

It may take as long as two months before the Department of Labor releases a safety report about whether any workplace safety violations were found.

Griffith High School graduate Gilberto Rangel III was pronounced dead at the refinery Wednesday morning. The Lake County coroner's office determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma and the manner was an accident.

Rangel was a first-year apprentice with Pipefitters Local 597 who was working on a cat cracker in a planned maintenance project at the 1,400-acre refinery on the Lake Michigan lakeshore.

"He was almost a year into his apprenticeship," his aunt Mayra Rangel said. "He was so excited. He was making so much money and had future plans to buy a house in the next few years."

Rangel loved being a pipefitter and working in the trades, she said.

"He died doing what he loved," she said. "This is the biggest tragedy. His late grandfather passed away a few years ago but we knew his time was coming. This was unexpected. He died too soon."

Rangel had been engaged to be married to his fiance Faith Adams for a year and a half, she said. No date was set for the wedding while he was working to save up money.

"He was such a happy kid," she said. "Everybody that knew him knew how positive he was. He was incredible, the most fun-loving person. He loved the Cubs. He loved sports. He had his whole life ahead of him."

Rangel most vividly remembers her nephew's wonderful smile and how much he loved his fiance.

"We're going to miss him," she said. "He'll be missed by so many."


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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