Electrocution likely in worker's death


An investigator with the medical examiner's office works the scene of a tree worker's death near Lacrosse on Saturday.

DOUG FINGER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Published: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:36 p.m.

A man delivering mulch for a Gainesville tree service was killed Saturday when a boom on his truck touched a power line, causing a fire in the cab, reported the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

The man's identity has not been released.

However, sheriff's Lt. Steve Maynard said he worked for Gaston's Tree Service and was delivering mulch to a home at 21812 NW 91st St. when the mishap occurred about 9:23 a.m.

"He was attempting to dump the mulch. At some point ... he got out of the vehicle and observed the mulch was bunching up in the rear of the vehicle and he needed to pull forward," Maynard said.

"In order to dump the mulch, he would have had the boom in the air. He pulled the truck forward. Unfortunately ... the boom came in contact with the electrical lines, resulting in electrocution. We're not sure at this point whether the individual was killed as a result of the electrocution or the subsequent fire," he said.

The man was dead when rescue personnel arrived. Maynard said the homeowner and his wife attempted to pull the man away from the burning truck but were unable to.

Maynard added the homeowner said he felt an electrical current near the truck.

Troy Adams, district line supervisor for Clay Electric Cooperative, said 14,400 volts of power ran through the lines.

Electricity through the lines automatically shuts down when such contact occurs, he added.

Officials believe the man may have been electrocuted leaving the truck, possibly having a hand on the metal of the truck and a foot on the ground.

"In this circumstance, you have a high-voltage line. When he contacted the line, the path for the (electrical) ground is through the truck. If you touch that truck and you are touching the ground, you may become the better path," Adams said.

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